'History is watching,' Biden says in urging House to support aid plan for Ukraine

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. After the Senate earlier on Tuesday passed a bipartisan $95 billion emergency defense package that provides aid to Ukraine, Biden urged its approval in the House, saying the nation is at an "inflection point."
Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI
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Feb. 13 (UPI) -- After the Senate earlier on Tuesday passed a bipartisan $95 billion emergency defense package that provides aid to Ukraine, President Joe Biden forcefully urged its approval in the House, saying the nation is at an "inflection point."

The president's comments came after House Speaker Mike Johnson earlier had expressed objections to the bill.

"For Republicans in Congress who think they can oppose funding for Ukraine and not be held accountable: History is watching. History is watching. History is watching. Failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will never be forgotten," Biden said.

He took no questions after Tuesday afternoon's White House press conference, saying he wanted his words to "stand alone."

Earlier Tuesday, the Senate passed the bipartisan $95 billion emergency defense package, with $60 designated in support for Ukraine's nearly two-year war with Russia after Moscow invaded the country in 2022.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Tuesday as he urged the House of Representatives to pass a defense aid plan that would help Ukraine in its war against invading Russai. Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Tuesday as he urged the House of Representatives to pass a defense aid plan that would help Ukraine in its war against invading Russai. Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI

Biden said the aid package helps Ukraine so that it can defend against Russian President Vladimir "Putin's vicious, vicious onslaught" in that country.

"We've all seen the terrible stories in recent weeks: Ukrainian soldiers out of artillery shells, Ukrainian units rationing rounds of ammunition to defend themselves, Ukrainian families worried that the next Russian strike will permanently plunge them into darkness or worse," Biden said. "This bipartisan bill sends a clear message to Ukrainians and to our partners and to our allies around the world: America can be trusted, America can be relied upon, and America stands up for freedom."

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., said he would not support the defense spending bill passed by the Senate early Tuesday without provisions for spending at the U.S.-Mexico border. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., said he would not support the defense spending bill passed by the Senate early Tuesday without provisions for spending at the U.S.-Mexico border. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

Biden said of the United States, "We stand strong for our allies. We never bow down to anyone, and certainly not to Vladimir Putin."

While the bill sends equipment to aid efforts in Ukraine, the president stressed that it also "spends the money right here in the United States" in defense-industry locations in multiple states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas, where artillery shells are made.

After the Senate passed a $95 billion foreign aid package early Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said "Today, we send a clear bipartisan message of resolve to our allies in NATO." Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
After the Senate passed a $95 billion foreign aid package early Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said "Today, we send a clear bipartisan message of resolve to our allies in NATO." Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

Biden explained that the aid also utilizes stockpiled U.S. military equipment.

"Stockpiles made right here in America by American workers," Biden said.

President Joe Biden gave remarks in the State Dining Room of the White House on Tuesday. He urged House Speaker Mike Johnson to allow the bipartisan defense-aid bill to be voted on in the House, where he says it will pass. Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI
President Joe Biden gave remarks in the State Dining Room of the White House on Tuesday. He urged House Speaker Mike Johnson to allow the bipartisan defense-aid bill to be voted on in the House, where he says it will pass. Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI

Biden also noted that the Senate "overwhelmingly" voted just hours before to "move forward with the bipartisan national security bill."

He urged Johnson to bring the bill up for a vote on the House floor "immediately," saying there is "no question" that if the bill was presented to House members to vote on, "it would pass."

"And the speaker knows that," the president said.

Earlier in the day, the Democrat-controlled Senate overcame a GOP filibuster -- lead by Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Mike Lee, R-Utah -- before approving the bill 70-29 with 22 Republicans joining most Democrats. Two Democrats, Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Peter Welch of Vermont, voted against the bill, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., because of military assistance to Israel.

"Today, we make Vladimir Putin regret the day he questioned America's resolve," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. said when the measure passed in the Senate. "Today, we send a clear bipartisan message of resolve to our allies in NATO."

In the House, though, Johnson warned lawmakers before their vote that he would not support the bill, casting serious doubt over its passage or if it would even be brought up for a vote in that chamber.

"In the absence of having received any single border policy change from the Senate, the House will have to continue to work its own will on these important matters," Johnson said Monday, according to the Washington Post.

But opposing the bill, Biden said Tuesday afternoon, is "playing in to Putins hands" because Putin "won't limit himself to just Ukraine."

The Senate bill sends $60.1 billion in aid to Ukraine, $14.1 billion to assist Israel in its fight against Hamas, and another $10 billion in humanitarian aid to help civilians in conflict zones, including Gaza, and to deter Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific region.

In addition, Biden said the bill also addresses needs in the Middle East, defense spending in Asia and "life-saving humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people who desperately need food, water and shelter."

He added, "It's the responsibility of a great nation. And we are a great nation that the rest of the world looks to."

A majority of Republicans in the House and Senate have lined up behind former President Donald Trump, who is calling for no foreign assistance to be given ahead of stricter measures at the U.S. southern border.

In addition to pushing for aid to Ukraine in the face of Republican opposition, Biden also used the occasion to criticize recent comments by Trump regarding NATO, calling them "un-American."

The former president stated over the weekend that, if he is re-elected, he would allow Russia to "do whatever the hell they want."

Biden said that gave Putin "an invitation" to invade other countries.

"The whole world heard it," he said. "The worst thing is he means it."