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US diplomat confident in funding Ukraine and Israel will pass through a divided Congress

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PRAGUE — A top U.S. diplomat said the Biden administration’s plans to provide aid to both Israel and Ukraine would pass a divided Congress despite opposition from Republicans who say the aid programs aid should be considered separately.

US Deputy Secretary of State Liz Allen told RFE/RL in an interview on November 1, it is crucial that the United States stands with Ukraine – alongside its allies and NATO – while sending aid to Israel, which would be used in part to fund humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in Gaza.

Speaking to RFE/RL in Prague, Allen noted that Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had testified before a U.S. Senate committee the day before to make “very affirmative arguments for why we Need for more funding for Ukraine alongside funding needs to resource Israel to defend itself.

Their testimony was part of the Biden administration’s effort to convince Congress to pass a nearly $106 billion supplemental funding request that includes aid to Israel and Ukraine.

WATCH: US Deputy Secretary of State Liz Allen told RFE/RL that the Biden administration’s plans for a joint bill for financing Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan and Security at the Mexican border would continue despite opposition from Congress. Allen spoke to RFE/RL’s Ray Furlong in Prague on November 1.

The new House Speaker, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana), said the aid must be considered separately in order to pass the House of Representatives.

Asked if the Biden administration could win the political battle over funding, Allen said, “We can. We will continue to defend our arguments. »

Johnson reportedly discussed the aid packages with his Republican colleagues in the Senate on November 1, telling them that Ukraine needs U.S. aid, but President Joe Biden’s request for aid for both countries is impossible. in a single bill can be passed by the House.

In a closed-door meeting, Johnson said a new Ukraine aid package tied to U.S. border security would be brought quickly to the House after lawmakers finalize action on 14 aid .5 billion dollars to Israel.

Senate Democrats remain skeptical of that approach, saying separating aid programs would face strong opposition in the upper chamber, where they hold power. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the House’s decoupling of funding was “a joke.”

The House bill currently under consideration would require the $14.5 billion for Israel to be offset by spending cuts elsewhere, namely the Internal Revenue Service, which received increased funding last year latest to fight against tax evaders. The Congressional Budget Office said Nov. 1 that the House bill would end up costing the federal government $12.5 billion due to reduced tax revenue.

Allen noted that the White House and Office of Management and Budget have also rejected separating the two aid programs and that their assessments have made clear that doing so “is not a solution to the very real geopolitical realities of the world.” current “.

Allen’s current tour of Europe included a stop in Varna, Bulgaria, on October 31 for talks with the Bulgarian military on security, the NATO alliance in the region and the importance of strengthening the presence security in the Black Sea “not only to prevent new attacks”. Russian aggression, but also to repel its coercive actions in the region. »

She said the region must not forget that Russian aggression had “global consequences”, including a global food security crisis caused by the Russian invasion, which reduced the flow of Ukrainian grain and other products. food on the Black Sea to many other regions of the world. .

“So part of what we will do is continue to ensure that people understand the implications and work towards a whole-of-society approach to mitigating Russia’s actions in Ukraine,” he said. she declared.

With AP reporting

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