Congress Defies Biden


( – In a striking setback for Joe Biden, Congress departed Washington this week without approving a crucial emergency national security funding, casting doubt on Biden’s assertion that Ukraine would struggle to survive into the new year without further U.S. financial support.

Senate leaders, acknowledging the urgency, have pledged to take swift action on a $110 billion aid package, encompassing support for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan and humanitarian aid for Gaza, as soon as the new year begins. However, they concede that more time is needed to resolve disagreements between Republicans and Democrats over the southern border security issue.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, a Democrat from New York, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, issued a rare joint statement emphasizing the Senate’s commitment to addressing these national security challenges. They assured that negotiations will continue in good faith to finalize the agreement.

During Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s recent visit to Washington, President Biden highlighted the urgency of passing an additional $60 billion for Ukraine before the holidays. He suggested that failing to do so would be a significant boon to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The U.S. has already provided Ukraine with $111 billion to counter Russia’s invasion, a sum that is expected to be depleted by the end of the month, according to the White House budget office.

Amidst this backdrop, Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado, attempted to expedite the approval of more aid for Ukraine by blocking a crucial Federal Aviation Administration funding bill. The assurances from Schumer and McConnell eventually led Bennet to withdraw his hold, but not without acknowledging Biden’s concern about Ukraine’s precarious situation.

Republicans have been vocal in their criticism, blaming President Biden and the Democrats for squandering valuable negotiation time and only recently relenting on southern border policy amidst a surge in illegal crossings. Senate Minority Whip John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, emphasized the importance of addressing both international and domestic security issues.

The Biden administration has been actively involved in these negotiations, with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and senators including Christopher Murphy, Kyrsten Sinema, and James Lankford leading the talks. Despite these efforts, Republicans urge President Biden to be more outspoken, especially on immigration policy changes.

While Schumer acknowledges the U.S. border problem, he maintains that any solutions must align with Democratic principles. The secrecy surrounding these negotiations has sparked criticism, with a group of conservative senators demanding transparency in the legislative process upon Congress’s return in January.

As the situation unfolds, at least nine Republican senators will need to support any bipartisan package to overcome the Senate’s filibuster threshold.