Friday, May 17, 2024

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Biden’s Triumph: $95.3B Ukraine Aid Package Signed, Defying MAGA Obstruction

79-18 bipartisan Senate vote on Ukraine aid package enables Biden to send $1 billion in weapons and gear to Ukraine immediately.

Joe Biden Volodymyr Zelensky Ukraine
Joe Biden meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in 2022

After months of obstruction by the MAGA wing of the Republican Party, President Joe Biden has finally signed a $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan into law. This hard-fought legislative victory reaffirms America’s commitment to the people of Ukraine and their right to self-determination as they continue their harrowing fight against Russia’s brutal military invasion and occupation.

“It’s a good day for world peace,” Biden declared from the White House after inking the spending bill. “It’s going to make America safer, it’s going to make the world safer, and it continues America’s leadership in the world.”

The Senate’s 79-18 vote to approve the crucial funding was a rare showcase of bipartisan cooperation in an increasingly polarized political landscape. However, the president lamented that “it should have been easier, and should have gotten there sooner.” Biden directly called out the MAGA Republicans whose obstructionism jeopardized Ukraine’s security, allowed Ukraine to run low on munitions, and ceded strategic ground to Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

At the head of this obstructionist camp was none other than former president Donald Trump, who has shamelessly voiced his admiration for the Russian autocrat on many occasions. Despite once calling Putin’s assault on Ukraine “genius,” Trump recently acknowledged Ukraine’s importance to U.S. interests, likely anticipating the backlash his pro-Putin stance would provoke during his 2024 presidential run.

Joining Trump’s anti-democratic crusade were far-right Republicans like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who recently threatened to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) if he allowed a vote on the Ukraine package. 

In stark contrast, Biden’s White House undertook a campaign of private lobbying and public messaging to keep the funding alive. The president instructed top aides like National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to provide Republican Speaker Mike Johnson with regular briefings outlining the catastrophic risks of inaction, while avoiding directly attacking the Speaker. 

This behind-the-scenes diplomacy paid off when the Johnson came to recognize the severity of the situation and the need to defy his party’s far-right flank. “History will remember this moment,” Biden said, praising the Speaker alongside Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for ultimately “stepping up and doing the right thing.”

Ukraine Pays Steep Price for Delayed Aid

The human cost of the obstruction of aid led by Donald Trump have been staggering. As Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass.) solemnly noted after a recent Kyiv visit, the funding delays placed immense strain on Ukraine’s 51-nation coalition of democratic allies. And White House spokesman John Kirby acknowledged that the Russians had used the delay to slowly grind back Ukraine’s defensive lines.

“The Russians have slowly but successfully taken more ground from the Ukrainians and pushed them back against their first, second and, in some places, their third line of defense,” Kirby admitted. “The short answer is: Yes, there absolutely has been damage in the last several months.”

With Russian forces scoring bloody territorial gains amid Ukraine’s dwindling ammunition stockpiles, Biden understood urgent action was needed to avoid total calamity. Within minutes of the Senate vote, he vowed to sign the bill and “begin sending weapons and equipment to Ukraine this week.”

Joe Biden Greenlights Immediate Transfer of Military Aid to Ukraine

True to his word, Biden swiftly approved the transfer of $1 billion in military hardware upon signing the package into law. Air defenses, artillery rounds, armored vehicles, and other vital munitions are now flowing into Ukrainian hands, shoring up the nation’s beleaguered forces and restoring their shaken morale. U.S. officials even confirmed the covert provision of long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) which Ukraine employed to strike Russian forces in occupied Crimea.

As the White House rightly emphasized throughout its lobbying blitz, the consequences of abandoning Ukraine would be catastrophic for global democracy and U.S. national security. An emboldened Russia could continue consolidating its alliance with rogue states like Iran and North Korea, fortifying its military and industrial capabilities while eroding Western sanctions.

Even worse, a Russian victory would enable further territorial aggression against sovereign European nations such as Poland, escalating instability in a way that could ultimately drag America into an infinitely bloodier conflict on the continent. With the very idea of a rules-based international order under attack, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Of course, Joe Biden’s stalwart support for Ukraine exists alongside other controversial foreign policy stances that have drawn ire from his party’s progressive wing. The president has faced particular backlash over his administration’s steadfast military backing for Israel amid renewed violence with Hamas militants in Gaza.

“Israel must make sure this aid reaches all of the Palestinians in Gaza, without delay,” insisted Biden, referring to the 1 billion in humanitarian relief tucked into the military package. Yet some on the left remain frustrated at his reluctance to apply more stringent conditions on the $26.4 billion in military assistance earmarked for Israel.

Trump Prevented Inclusion of Border Security Funding

President Biden voiced his frustration that they weren’t able to include increased funding to secure the border in the aid package. The White House had proposed funding enhanced border protections, but these measures were ultimately stripped from the final bill after Trump pressured Republicans to block them.

“It should have been included in this bill,” a visibly frustrated Biden stated. “I’m determined to get it done for the American people.”

The omission underscores a damning truth—that for all Trump’s bluster about prioritizing immigration and border security, the former president’s objections seem to be purely performative. Even with a federal government trifecta during his first two years in office, Trump failed to get a border security bill passed. So it’s likely he’d rather preserve immigration as a political issue to campaign on than pursue an equitable bipartisan solution.

“MAGA Republicans” Responsible for Delay of Aid

Biden refused to mince words in portraying Ukraine’s plight as a pivotal battle for global democracy. “Imagine if instead we had failed,” the president said, while attacking obstructionist “MAGA Republicans” for delays that severely undermined Ukraine’s defenses against Russian aggression.

Ultimately, Biden’s leadership in securing this $95.3 billion aid package underscores America’s enduring commitment to democratic principles worldwide. Though compromise was necessary to overcome obstructionism from the far-right wing of the Republican Party, the president remained resolute in framing Ukraine’s struggle as a frontline battle against authoritarian aggression. 

By getting the aid package across the goal line, the White House has prolonged Kyiv’s resistance to Putin’s invasion while reaffirming U.S. support for self-determination among free nations. As the conflict grinds on, Biden’s deft handling of the contentious legislative process and ability to work with House Speaker Mike Johnson will be remembered as a pivotal moment in defending the rules-based global order.