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Biden signs foreign aid bill, says weapons to be sent to allies within hours

‘When our allies are stronger, we are stronger,’ president says

President Joe Biden speaks after signing the foreign aid bill at the White House.
President Joe Biden speaks after signing the foreign aid bill at the White House. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed a $95.3 billion emergency spending bill that will send military aid to Ukraine, Israel and Pacific partners, capping a dramatic week that culminated with a rare bipartisan outcome.

“When our allies are stronger, we are stronger,” Biden said. “I’m making sure the shipments start right away — literally within two hours. … As I’ve argued for months, this is directly in America’s national security interests.”

Specifically, the U.S. commander in chief said air defense and rocket systems, as well as armored vehicles made in America, would be in the first tranche of combat equipment sent under the bipartisan supplemental package.

Biden signed the measure, which he requested last fall, after it passed the Senate Tuesday night in a 79-18 vote. It passed the House Saturday as four different measures, with a floor rule bringing them together as one package, as designed by Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La. and blessed by Biden.

As Biden took a victory lap in the White House’s Indian Treaty Room during an event that was quickly arranged, Republicans were still smarting from divisions the measure caused in their ranks.

Unlike an earlier version of the measure the Senate passed in February, the revised package won support from a majority of Senate Republicans. A slim majority of House Republicans, however, still opposed the final package.

Biden said the measure had a more “difficult path than it should have” to get to his desk, but he applauded lawmakers because “we came together and got it done.”

“Now we need to move fast,” he said about turning the monies supplied by the emergency spending measure into combat shipments. “And we are.”

The president also warned that China, Iran, North Korea and other countries are providing Russian forces with new weapons. “Meanwhile, Putin’s friends have kept him well-supplied. With all that support, Russia has stepped up its airstrikes,” he warned.

Biden also touted the military aid the measure will send to Israel, and humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians inside the war-torn Gaza strip.

The U.S. has always “made sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against Iran and the terrorists it supports,” Biden said, touting $1 billion the measure will provide for “food, medical supplies, clean water” in Gaza. He added, “Israel must make sure all of this aid reaches the Palestinians in Gaza — without delay.”

Biden also applauded congressional leadership for negotiating the substance of a measure.

“They don’t always get along,” he said. “But when you look over the past few years, we’ve seen time and again on critical issues, we’ve actually come together. … That’s exactly what will continue.”

Biden has been in full campaign mode this spring, with two more days on the trail planned this week. Despite his celebratory tone on Wednesday, the national security spending measure is not that popular with voters.

“Just over 4 in 10 (43 percent) of Americans are in favor of the recently passed bills to provide aid for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, while 35 percent are opposed,” according to a Monmouth University Polling Institute summary of a survey of adults nationwide conducted April 18-22. “Another 21 percent have no opinion. Democrats broadly support the foreign aid package (65 percent favor and 14 percent oppose), while Republicans (30 percent favor and 44 percent oppose) and independents (36 percent favor and 45 percent oppose) are somewhat more likely to be against than for the deal.”

“The foreign aid package may be a big policy win, but politically it’s a wash for Speaker Johnson,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth institute said in the summary.

Pentagon details shipments

In the minutes after Biden announced he signed the bill, the Pentagon unveiled a $1 billion aid package for Ukraine, supplying the country with much-needed air defense systems, artillery rounds and anti-tank weapons. 

That includes 155mm artillery rounds, including dual-purpose improved conventional munitions, or DPICMs; 60mm mortar rounds; additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems; Bradley Fighting Vehicles; Javelin and AT-4 anti-armor systems; precision aerial munitions; and more. 

The capabilities, which will be pulled from existing U.S. stockpiles and sent abroad, represent the first tranche of military support for Kyiv since mid-March, when Defense Department officials cobbled together savings from a number of previous Army contracts to cover a $300 million shipment of equipment. 

But the Pentagon’s ability to support Ukraine further had been hampered since December by the lack of funds to backfill U.S. military inventories. Though some $4 billion had remained in Presidential Drawdown Authority for Ukraine, officials were reluctant to tap into that authority without additional replenishment funds, or money that’s used to buy back capabilities sent overseas. 

That changed with the signing of the supplemental bill, which allocates $23.2 billion to replenish U.S. defense articles and defense services provided to Ukraine, $11.3 billion for current U.S. military operations in that region and $13.8 billion for the procurement of still more weapons and services.

Briana Reilly and David Lerman contributed to this report.

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