US Senate releases text of border security, Ukraine, ‘Israel’ aid bill

The proposed bill includes $60 billion to support Ukraine and $14.1 billion in security assistance designated for the Israeli occupation.

  • Pro-Palestinian protesters block the intersection of E St NW at New Jersey Ave. NW, near the Capitol, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

US senators unveiled Sunday the text of a highly anticipated agreement that would allocate substantial new aid for Ukraine and the Israeli occupation entity, while simultaneously implementing stricter US border laws.

The proposed national security supplemental legislation encompasses a total funding of $118.3 billion. This includes $60 billion to support Ukraine, aligning with the White House’s request, and $14.1 billion in security assistance designated for “Israel”, as outlined in a summary provided by Senate Appropriations Committee chair Patty Murray.

According to the summary, $4 billion will be designated to bolster “Israel’s” anti-air capabilities and $1.2 billion for the occupation entity’s Iron Beam procurement.

Additionally, the deal encompasses $20.2 billion earmarked for US border security — including $2.44 billion to support the operations in the Central Command area and replace combat expenditures for weapons in the Red Sea — accompanied by a variety of immigration policy changes agreed upon by both Democratic and Republican negotiators.

The bipartisan agreement also proposes “$2.58 billion to bolster US and allied capabilities in the Indo-Pacific and deter China.” Of the $2.5 billion, some $1.9 billion would be used to invest in the US industrial base to replenish US weapons provided to Taiwan.

Elsewhere, the draft supplemental funding proposed by the US Senate includes $9.2 billion for humanitarian assistance to provide civilian populations in the Gaza Strip, Ukraine, the West Bank and other regions with food, shelter and basic services.

Some $7 million “shall be made available for the oversight and monitoring of assistance made available for Gaza,” the text read.

Despite these provisions, the bill’s path to becoming law remains uncertain, as it is not evident whether it has garnered the necessary 60 backers for the initial procedural vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate, scheduled for Wednesday at the latest.

The prolonged negotiations among senators have revolved around addressing illegal immigration, with Republicans emphasizing the need for enhanced border security in exchange for approving President Joe Biden’s funding request for Kiev.

The release of the legislative text received prompt approval from the White House, with Biden stating, “Now we’ve reached an agreement on a bipartisan national security deal that includes the toughest and fairest set of border reforms in decades. I strongly support it.”

The US President also urged Republicans, who hold control in the House of Representatives and face pressure from former President Donald Trump to oppose the deal, to endorse the bipartisan package,

“If you believe, as I do, that we must secure the border now, doing nothing is not an option,” he said.

On his part, Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, the lead Republican negotiator, considered in a statement that “this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to close our open border and give future administrations the effective tools they need to stop the border chaos and protect our nation.”

He said the bill would put “a huge number of new enforcement tools in the hands of a future administration” and push the Biden administration to “finally stop the illegal flow” of migrants through border wall construction and stronger technology.

The measure calls for tougher curbs in the system for processing asylum requests and for a clampdown when crossings exceed 5,000 people a week.

Lankford said it changes US policy from “catch and release,” which allows undocumented migrants to remain at liberty as they await court appearances, to “detain and deport.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the legislation “a monumental step” toward strengthening “America’s national security abroad and along our borders.”

Read more: Biden pressing Netanyahu on long-term ceasefire in Gaza, reports say

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