Listen Live
Listen Live

Biden signs $95B foreign aid bill for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan

SHARE NOW

President Joe Biden signed a $95 billion foreign aid bill Wednesday, ending a months-long trudge through Congress.

“It’s a good day for America, it’s a good day for Europe, and it’s a good day for world peace,” Biden said to kick off his remarks after the signing.

First and foremost in the legislation was about $61 billion in aid for Ukraine in its war against Russia. Also included was roughly $26 billion in aid for Israel and humanitarian aid as well as about $8 billion for the Indo-Pacific region.

“It gives vital support to America’s partners so they can defend themselves against threats to their sovereignty and to the lives and the freedom of their citizens, and it’s an investment in our own security because when our allies are stronger … we are stronger,” Biden continued, expressing gratitude for the bipartisan effort to pass the bill.

Ukraine funding has become increasingly controversial. The initial $95 billion bill was held up in the Senate earlier this year as Republicans fought to have provisions added to the bill to protect the U.S. border with Mexico.

However, the border provisions negotiated by Senate leadership were rejected by many Republicans, who argued they were not strict enough and unnecessarily expanded the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s power to let migrants into the U.S.

After negotiations on the border additions failed, Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., pushed through a standalone funding bill for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific region, largely meant to bolster Taiwan, which many experts say could face an invasion from China at any time.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., was slow to take up the Senate’s bill, and it might have died there if not for escalating tensions between Israel and Iran. Israel has been at war with the terrorist group Hamas since Hamas killed more than 1,000 Israelis in a brutal Oct. 7 surprise attack.

Iranian-backed groups have been firing on Israel for months, prompting Israel to conduct a strike on Iran’s consulate in Syria. Israel has not confirmed it conducted the attack, but most security experts say Israel was behind it.

Iran responded with a large-scale drone attack on Israel, which was almost entirely thwarted by U.S., Jordan and Israeli air defense systems.

Israel then conducted strikes on Iranian sites earlier this month. Whether tensions will settle or continue to escalate remains to be seen.

The exchanges of fire between Iran and Israel renewed pressure to provide funding for Israel, and Johnson pushed through the funding bill despite serious pushback from his own party. Johnson’s fellow Republicans argue Johnson gave up the Ukraine funding without addressing the southern border crisis.

Some experts have raised concerns that Russia will continue marching through Europe once Ukraine falls, possibly entangling NATO and the U.S. in a larger war.

The House vote increased calls for an end to Johnson’s speakership. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, R-Ga., has led that charge but so far has not rallied the needed votes.

Notably, Biden’s signature also enacts a law that requires China’s ByteDance to sell its ownership in Tik Tok or the app will be banned in the U.S. The app infamously has invasive monitoring capabilities that experts say China could weaponize against Americans, especially if a war broke out.

“TikTok extended the Chinese Communist Party’s power and influence into our own nation, right under our noses,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in a statement Wednesday. “I have been raising concerns about TikTok since 2019, so this new law forcing ByteDance to divest from TikTok is a huge step toward confronting Beijing’s malign influence. It’s official: Communist China is on the clock.”