Biden asks Congress for over $13.1 billion for aid to Ukraine. He may be in for a fight.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will request $13 billion in emergency funding for military support to Ukraine and $12 billion for disaster relief as part of a package that also includes money for the border and will likely set up a clash with conservatives in Congress.

Biden’s request will pit him against House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans, who have said they will not approve aid to Ukraine beyond what was negotiated during the debt ceiling crisis in June — which kept the country from defaulting.

Higher levels of military assistance for Ukraine have become an increasingly fraught topic for the administration with Americans’ views on military assistance souring as the counteroffensive against Russia slogs on and conservatives in Congress pledging to enforce the agreed upon cap on government spending.

Previously aid to Ukraine had sailed through Congress. This time Biden could be in for an uphill fight.

President Joe Biden, left, walks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ahead of a working session on Ukraine during the G7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, Sunday, May 21, 2023.

President Joe Biden, left, walks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ahead of a working session on Ukraine during the G7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, Sunday, May 21, 2023.

His administration has pledged to provide aid to Ukraine for as long as it takes to win the war, and in the Senate, the military assistance continues to have strong bipartisan support.

The president’s request will run into stern opposition in the GOP-run House with Republicans who are adamantly against approving government spending that isn’t paired with budget cuts and conservatives who want a more detailed accounting of how Ukraine is spending the money the U.S. has already sent.

Others conservatives are against sending additional aid to Ukraine altogether and are pushing Biden to direct more resources to countering a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Biden last month sent $345 million in weapons to Taiwan.

The U.S. has approved $113 billion in aid to Ukraine since the start of the war. The last time Congress authorized funding for Ukraine was in December, but the $48 billion allocation was before Republicans took control of the House.

The right-flank of the House Republican Caucus has been increasingly critical of continued financial support for Ukraine.

McCarthy in June said that he had no plans to support additional funding for Ukraine after Congress reached a debt-ceiling deal that capped federal spending including on national security for the coming fiscal year.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s Ukraine or anything else,” McCarthy said then. “The idea that someone wants to go do a supplemental after we just came to an agreement is trying to blow the agreement.”

Senators left open the possibility when they voted in favor of the debt agreement that they could revisit funding for Ukraine as the anticipated counteroffensive against Russia ramped up. It is an area of disagreement within the GOP that is part of a larger rift over the U.S. foreign policy.

Public opinion may also be at a turning point. A CNN poll released last week showed that a slim majority of Americans, 55%, now oppose providing additional assistance. And even among Americans who do support the war, there is widespread concern about when it will end.

A majority of Republicans, 71%, oppose new funding for Ukraine. So do 55% of independents. A strong majority of Democrats, 62%, backed an additional allocation in the the survey.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby argued Wednesday that greater U.S. national security obligations are at play, including commitments to the NATO military alliance, and the implications of losing the fight with Russian President Vladimir Putin are much bigger than Ukraine’s sovereignty.

“If we just sit back, and we let Putin win, we let him take Ukraine, where does it stop next? And for people that might be concerned that the costs financially are getting too high? We would ask them to consider what the costs — not just in treasure but in blood, perhaps even American blood — could be if it Putin subjugates Ukraine and then sets his sights on our NATO allies,” Kirby said.

Congress is in recess until mid-September. When lawmakers return to Washington, they will have until the end of the month to pass legislation that funds the government. The supplemental request will add a new dimension to what was already expected to be a vicious spending fight.

The conservative Heritage Foundation came out swinging against the proposal to pair supplemental aid to Ukraine with FEMA disaster relief before lawmakers left town.

“This is an attempt to hold American citizens hostage by using the cover of hurricane relief as leverage to jam through tens of billions of taxpayers’ dollars for Ukraine with little meaningful oversight,” Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts said in a statement at the time.

Biden’s supplemental request also includes $800 million to address the fentanyl crisis, with funding aimed at reducing the supply of illicit drugs and expanding access to addiction care.

Contributing: Joey Garrison

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: U.S. aid to Ukraine likely to prompt fight as Biden asks for more

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