U.S. Senate approves US$95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan

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24th April 2024 – (Washington) U.S. Senate has approved a substantial $95 billion aid package aimed at bolstering Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. This significant financial commitment comes after intense debates and delays, reflecting the contentious nature of U.S. involvement in overseas conflicts. The bill, which garnered an overwhelming majority with a vote of 79-18, was passed late Tuesday, following its approval in the House on Saturday.

President Joe Biden, who has been instrumental in rallying support for the bill among lawmakers, announced his intention to sign the legislation on Wednesday. This will expedite the dispatch of military aid to Ukraine, which is currently engaged in a fierce struggle to maintain its front lines against Russian advances.

The aid package is not solely focused on military support; it also includes $26 billion designated for wartime assistance to Israel and humanitarian aid for Gaza, alongside $8 billion to counteract Chinese threats in Taiwan and the broader Indo-Pacific region. According to U.S. officials, approximately $1 billion of this aid is expected to be distributed imminently, with the remainder to follow in the subsequent weeks.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer highlighted the historic significance of this legislation shortly before the Senate vote, emphasizing the dire consequences of inaction. “America would have paid a price economically, politically, militarily,” Schumer remarked, stressing the imperative to support U.S. allies in these turbulent times.

The legislative leaders, including Schumer and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, have strategically linked aid for Ukraine and Israel to ensure the bill’s passage, countering isolationist sentiments within certain segments of the Republican Party. McConnell, reflecting on the significance of the vote, stated, “It is one of the biggest days in the time that I’ve been here.”

The package allocates $61 billion specifically for Ukraine, which is in desperate need of new weaponry as it faces intensified Russian military efforts. President Biden reassured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky of swift U.S. action, promising the delivery of critical air defence systems and artillery.

To broaden the bill’s appeal, additional measures were incorporated, including a provision potentially leading to the ban of the social media app TikTok in the U.S. unless its Chinese owners divest their stakes within a year. This inclusion, among others, played a crucial role in securing bipartisan support.

Despite the strong backing, the bill has faced criticism from both ends of the political spectrum. Some conservatives argue that the U.S. should prioritise domestic issues, such as immigration, over foreign aid. Meanwhile, progressive voices like Senator Bernie Sanders have expressed concerns over the U.S.’s role in supporting conflicts abroad, particularly in relation to Israel’s actions in Gaza.