President Biden is sending Congress an urgent budget request for military assistance for Ukraine and Israel, he said in a prime-time speech Thursday night laying out the stakes for American leadership on the world stage.
The president refrained from giving a dollar number, but the request is expected to be about $100 billion, with the bulk of the funds expected to be for Ukraine but also to include a significant amount for Israel.
Biden laid out the argument to the American people that supporting Ukraine and Israel funds “America’s national security needs.”
“It’s a smart investment that’s going to pay dividends for American security for generations,” the president said. “Help us keep American troops out of harm’s way. Help us build a world that is safer, more peaceful and more prosperous for our children and grandchildren.”
The U.S. has so far provided $113 billion in military and economic assistance for Ukraine since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of the country in February 2022.
“From the outset, I’ve said I will not send American troops to fight in Ukraine. All Ukrainians asked me for is help for the weapons munitions, the capacity, the capability to push invading Russian forces off their land, the air defense system to shutdown Russian missiles before they destroy Ukrainian cities.”
Republicans critical of sending more assistance to Ukraine have thwarted efforts in the House to pass more aid and have said that America can’t afford to send money overseas.
The budget request for Ukraine is reportedly $60 billion.
Biden spoke to those criticisms, saying that money requested for Ukraine goes into replenishing American stocks with weapons “made in America”
“When we use the money allocated by Congress, we use it to replenish our own stores, our own stockpile with new equipment,” the president said. “Equipment that defends America and is made in America. Patriot missiles for air defense batteries, made in Arizona. Artillery shells manufactured in 12 states across the country; Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas. There’s so much more.”
And on Israel, Biden is expected to announce around $10 billion in new assistance, which he described as “an unprecedented commitment to Israel’s security that will sharpen Israel’s qualitative military edge which we’ve committed to.”
The U.S. in 2008 passed into law an American commitment to make sure Israel sustains a qualitative military edge, a promise that its military holds an advantage against credible military threat and aggression.
“We’re going to make sure Iron Dome continues to guard the skies over Israel,” Biden said, referring to the missile defense system that the U.S. has helped replenish. “We’re going to make sure other hostile actors in the region know that Israel is stronger than ever and prevent this conflict from spreading.”
Biden’s budget request for Israel comes on top of long-term and robust American-military funding for Israel, which is the “largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II,” according to the Congressional Research Service.
The U.S. provides about $3.8 billion to Israel per year, part of a 10-year memorandum of understanding that amounts to $38 billion total, with $33 billion in foreign military assistance and $5 billion in missile defense, including for the Iron Dome system.
In March 2022, Congress approved $1 billion to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome system following a 10-day war with Hamas that occurred in 2021, in addition to the annual military assistance.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed support for passing a broad aid package that includes funding for Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan and addressing security needs at the southern border.
The president did not address these needs specifically but underscored that the importance of American commitment to partners and allies across the world is to counter and deter would-be aggressors from spreading conflict and chaos.
“We know that our allies — and maybe most important our adversaries and competitors — are watching,” he said.
“The risk of conflict and chaos could spread in other parts of the world, in the Indo-Pacific and the Middle East. Especially the Middle East,” he added.
“Iran is supporting Russia in Ukraine, and is supporting Hamas and other terrorist groups in the region, and we’ll continue to hold them accountable, I might add.”
Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET