Multimedia

Biden signs a $95 billion war aid measure with assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan

 

The announcement marks an end to the long battle with Republicans in Congress over urgently needed assistance for Ukraine.

“We rose to the moment, we came together, and we got it done,” Biden said at White House event to announce the signing. “Now we need to move fast, and we are.”

But significant damage has been done to the Biden administration’s effort to help Ukraine repel Russia’s offensive during the funding impasse that dates back to August, when the Democratic president made his first emergency spending request for Ukraine aid. Even with a burst of new weapons and ammunition, it’s unlikely Ukraine will immediately recover after months of setbacks.

Biden approved immediately sending Ukraine $1 billion in military assistance and said the shipment would begin arriving in the “next few hours” — the first tranche from about $61 billion allocated for Ukraine. The package includes air defense capabilities, artillery rounds, armored vehicles and other weapons to shore up Ukrainian forces who have seen morale sink as Russian President Vladimir Putin has racked up win after win.

But longer term, it remains uncertain if Ukraine — after months of losses in Eastern Ukraine and sustaining massive damage to its infrastructure — can make enough progress to sustain American political support before burning through the latest influx of money.

“It’s not going in the Ukrainians’ favor in the Donbas, certainly not elsewhere in the country,” said White House national security spokesman John Kirby, referring to the eastern industrial heartland where Ukraine has suffered setbacks. “Mr. Putin thinks he can play for time. So we’ve got to try to make up some of that time.”

Tucked into the measure is a provision that gives TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, nine months to sell it or face a nationwide prohibition in the United States. The president can grant a one-time extension of 90 days, bringing the timeline to sell to one year, if he certifies that there’s a path to divestiture and “significant progress” toward executing it.

The administration and a bipartisan group of lawmakers have called the social media site a growing national security concern.

TikTok said it will wage a legal challenge against what it called an “unconstitutional” effort by Congress.

“We believe the facts and the law are clearly on our side, and we will ultimately prevail,” the company said in a statement.

The bill also includes about $26 billion in aid for Israel and a surge of about $1 billion in humanitarian relief for Palestinians in Gaza suffering as Israel's war on the territory continues.

Biden said Israel must ensure the humanitarian aid for Palestinians in the bill reaches Gaza “without delay.”

Biden lamented that the package did not include money to bolster US border security. The White House had proposed including in the package provisions that it said would have helped stem the tide of migrants and asylum seekers coming to the US

Republicans, however, rejected the proposal at the urging of Trump, who did not want to give Biden the win on an issue that’s been an albatross for the Democratic administration.

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

*This story was edited by Ahram Online