A group of Republican senators introduced a bill Thursday that would decouple funding for Israel from billions of additional dollars the White House requested for Ukraine.
The Israel Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2023 was introduced by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio and Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas.
“Ukraine and Israel are distinct, important issues, and Congress should have the opportunity to consider and vote on prospective aid packages individually,” Lee said in a press release.
“If the Biden administration’s case for additional Ukraine aid is not strong enough to stand on its own, then packaging them is an insulting request to lay before Congress. It is unreasonable for the administration to exploit an aid package for Israel to siphon off billions of taxpayer dollars in yet another blank check for Ukraine,” he said.
What is in the Israel Supplemental Appropriations Act?
The proposed bill would give Israel $14.3 billion in aid, close to what the White House asked for, which includes $10.6 billion in assistance through the Department of Defense to strengthen the Iron Dome and Iron Beam and $3.5 billion for military financing.
It also earmarks $200 million to support U.S. embassies, while stripping all aid to Gaza.
“The brutal, savage attacks launched by Hamas against our closest ally in the Middle East, Israel, have sent shock waves across the world,” said Marshall.
“My colleagues and I firmly believe that any aid to Israel should not be used as leverage to send tens of billions of dollars to Ukraine,” he said. “Any package that does so would result in funds and resources being delayed in Israel’s time of need.”
The White House’s $106 billion request attached Israel funding to aid for Ukraine, Taiwan and the U.S. border.
Senate Republicans disagree on Ukraine aid
But, as The Wall Street Journal reported, Republicans in the Senate are split over the supplemental funding — there is bipartisan support to aid Israel but sending more money to Ukraine has earned resistance among some Republicans. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urged his Republican colleagues not to separate funding for Israel and Ukraine at a lunch meeting on Wednesday, but he received pushback.
“Mitch made a plea to keep it all together. Nobody else spoke up in favor of that position. A lot of folks said ‘Israel unites us, and the Ukraine issue divides us; let’s move Israel money on its own,” a Republican senator, who attended the lunch, told The Hill.
Marshall, Vance and Lee have previously opposed additional funds for Ukraine without accountability. Cruz, who has been supportive of helping Ukraine, said in the press release, “Russia still needs to be defeated. Taiwan still needs to be defended.”
But, he added, the Israel bill “is about one thing and one thing only: getting our Israeli allies the aid they need, as fast as possible.”
“The overwhelming majority of the Senate is ready to support an aid package for Israel. The House would readily pass this bill — they are frankly not ready to pass anything else, least of all more aid to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. We should pass Israel aid immediately and then move on to those,” Cruz said.