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As lawmakers digest supplemental, a way forward remains unclear

Lack of a speaker is just one complicating factor for Biden's $106 billion request

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., says he supports security aid for both Israel and Ukraine, but combining them into one legislative package could create risk.
Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., says he supports security aid for both Israel and Ukraine, but combining them into one legislative package could create risk. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The White House’s $106 billion national security supplemental request faces an uncertain legislative path forward amid ongoing turmoil in the House and interest among some Republicans in breaking the package into stand-alone pieces for passage. 

The long-anticipated proposal, which includes funding for Israel, Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific and the southern border, faced pushback from a group of Senate Republicans even before its official unveiling Friday as lawmakers advocated for spinning out the $61.4 billion sought to aid Kyiv into a separate bill. 

And the resistance continued Friday as a handful of House GOP members, fresh off of another unsuccessful attempt to elect a speaker on the chamber’s floor, echoed their own individual support for decoupling Ukraine assistance from the $14.3 billion the Biden administration wants to send to Israel in the wake of a surprise terrorist attack perpetrated by Hamas. 

“These need to be à la carte conversations, and Israel needs to go first,” Defense appropriator Mike Garcia, R-Calif., told reporters ahead of a caucus meeting. 

“I want both,” Nebraska Republican Rep. Don Bacon, an Armed Services Committee member, said of funding for the two wars. “I just think that if you link them together you put both at risk — or one or two at risk.” 

Last week, President Joe Biden used a prime-time Oval Office address to draw a connection between the two wars and make the case for supporting both Israel and Ukraine. During his speech previewing the emergency request, he said both Hamas and Russian President Vladimir Putin share a desire to “annihilate a neighboring democracy.” 

Following the request’s release on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., touted the request’s demonstration of “America’s commitment to supporting democracies around the world.” 

“At a time when there’s such division in our country, there is broad bipartisan [backing] in the Senate to support the people of Israel and Ukraine, to compete with the Chinese government, and to secure our southern border and fight the scourge of fentanyl,” he said. 

The Senate has vowed to swiftly move out on the supplemental funding bill amid ongoing chaos in the House, which has been left without a speaker since the ouster of Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., earlier this month. 

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who failed three times to win enough support to become House speaker before his caucus voted to end his candidacy, acknowledged the chamber’s powerlessness to act on the aid package without a speaker in place but voiced support for bolstering Israel. 

“We stand with Israel. I’ve been there five times. Amazing people, amazing country, and we should do everything we can to help them,” the Ohio Republican told reporters during a news conference Friday morning. “The quickest way to do that is to elect a speaker.” 

To get the legislation through the House, Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith of Washington recommended during a Center for a New American Security event Friday that the administration work “very, very closely with Republicans,” especially those who support the effort, such as Armed Services Chairman Mike D. Rogers, R-Ala., and other defense-minded lawmakers. 

“Make the pitch, get Republicans broadly supportive, the White House and the Senate pass a package, put it on our doorstep and then say, ‘All we’re asking for is a vote,’” Smith said, although he acknowledged that the lack of a speaker is a “glitch in the strategy.” 

In addition to the Israel aid, the Biden administration is seeking $9.15 billion for humanitarian assistance that would be sent to Israel, Gaza, Ukraine and elsewhere. Some of that funding, however, could face headwinds from Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that “not a dime” should go to Gaza aid “until EVERY American hostage is released and safely home.” 

Defense industrial base funding included 

Lawmakers welcomed plans to funnel billions of dollars toward the U.S. defense industrial base as part of the wider supplemental request. 

The money would shore up submarine production and aid the Defense Department in replenishing weapons stores that have been depleted to arm Kyiv and will once again be tapped to bolster Israel in its war against Hamas. 

Of the $61.4 billion the White House wants to designate for Ukraine, $30 billion would go toward DOD equipment for the country and backfilling U.S. stockpiles, which a summary noted would “support the U.S. industrial base.” 

Meanwhile, the lion’s share of support for Israel, $10.6 billion, is earmarked for Defense Department-related expenditures ranging from air and missile defense support to industrial base investments and replenishment of Pentagon stocks. The remaining $3.7 billion would be designated for the State Department to cover foreign military financing and embassy support, according to the White House breakdown. 

Underscoring the need to support both countries militarily, House Appropriations ranking member Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., noted in a statement that moving out on the request would also help the U.S. domestically. 

“With half of the requested security resources aimed at replenishing the United States’ military stocks, honoring this request would also create jobs and boost our economy,” she said. “We will pay a much higher price if we do not stand up now.”

Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., vice chairman of the Armed Services Committee, noted that past supplemental funding has been used “to spin up the industrial base.” But he questioned whether using emergency funding to shore up the industrial base is a sustainable approach.

“We should not be back in the position of saying, ‘We’re going to ramp up, do this zenith,’ and then all of a sudden come back down again because then we’ll find ourselves in the same position,” he said in a brief interview. “So the question is: How do you ramp and how do you sustain?” 

AUKUS in focus 

The administration’s plan also includes $3.4 billion in investments in the submarine industrial base, $3.3 billion of which would go to DOD, while the remaining $98 million would be for the National Nuclear Security Administration. 

Proponents of including the funding in the supplemental have argued in recent days that the money is critical for enabling a tripartite pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, known as AUKUS. Under the deal, the U.S. would sell three Virginia-class attack submarines from its existing fleet to Australia in the early 2030s, among other things.  

Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee and a vocal supporter of using supplemental funds to enable AUKUS, called the dollars’ inclusion “a welcome start to the process of fortifying our submarine maintenance and production capabilities.” 

“There is still much work to be done with the administration and Pentagon to expand our industrial base and add the necessary attack submarines to prevent conflict on the seas, but this package signals a positive first step toward that goal,” he added in a statement. 

On the House side, Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., said in a statement that the money shows the nation’s “unwavering commitment to the trilateral security agreement and maintaining peace in the Indo Pacific.”

“This request will not only help the industrial base increase production and capacity to ensure the Navy can meet its own fleet requirements but also position the AUKUS mission for success,” said Courtney, the leading Democrat on the Armed Services Seapower subcommittee. 

The package also includes $2 billion for security assistance in the Indo-Pacific in the form of State Department foreign military financing and $2 billion for the Treasury Department to provide an alternative to “coercive” financing currently provided to developing nations by China. 

Finally, the request includes $13.6 billion for security and counter-drug trafficking measures along the U.S. southern border with Mexico, according to a White House fact sheet. 

Mark Satter contributed to this report.

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