Biden slams GOP for ‘gift’ to Putin as he urges passage of Ukraine funding

Mr Biden is pressing for Congress to approve aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan without delay

Andrew Feinberg
Wednesday 06 December 2023 18:18 GMT
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Biden slams GOP 'gift' to Putin and calls for Congress to pass Ukraine funding

President Biden on Wednesday slammed Republicans for their refusal to allow Congress to approve renewed funding for Ukraine’s defence and warned that their recalcitrance would be a “gift” to Russian President Vladimir Putin because it would hurt Ukraine’s efforts to repel Mr Putin’s invading troops.

The president slammed the House and Senate Republicans who have been demanding that he and his Democratic allies in Congress allow for any funding bill to include draconian changes to US immigration policies meant to make it more difficult — if not impossible — for largely non-white immigrants from South and Central America and other countries to claim asylum at the US-Mexico border or receive protection from removal from the country.

The GOP hostage-taking, which is reminiscent of other Republican-induced crises over funding for the US government and the federal debt ceiling, has held up funding for multiple US defence priorities in recent weeks.

“Frankly I think it’s stunning that we’ve gotten to this point in the first place,” Mr Biden said, adding that the GOP is “willing to give Putin the greatest gift he could hope for and abandon our global leadership” by holding up the legislation to fund Ukraine’s defence.

Speaking from the Roosevelt Room of the White House ahead of a Senate vote on a supplemental funding bill to support Ukraine, Israel and other US national security priorities, Mr Biden said he was calling on Congress to “do something and do the right thing to stand with the people in Ukraine”.

“Petty partisan, angry politics can’t get in the way of our responsibility as a leading nation in the world. And literally the entire world watching. The entire world is watching — what will the United States do?” he said.

The president conceded that he is “willing to do significantly more” to boost security along the US-Mexico border and conceded that the current US immigration system is “broken”.

But he cautioned that he is only interested in “real solutions” and accused the GOP of “playing chicken with our national security” and “holding Ukraine's funding hostage to their extreme partisan border policies”.

“History is going to judge harshly, those who turn their back on freedom’s cause — we can't let Putin win,” he said.

Mr Biden added that “any disruption in our ability to supply Ukraine clearly strengthens Putin's position” and said Republicans must decide whether they want “a political issue” or “a solution” at the US-Mexico border.

“This has to be a negotiation. Republicans think they get everything they want without any bipartisan compromise ... that's not the answer — and now they're willing to literally kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield and damage our national security in the process,” he said.

Mr Biden’s comments come just one day after the White House Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young warned that Defense and State departments are at the stage where they have almost exhausted all available US funds for Kyiv — approximately $111bn — leaving recent assistance packages smaller and smaller.

“I want to be clear: without congressional action, by the end of the year we will run out of resources to procure more weapons and equipment for Ukraine and to provide equipment from US military stocks,” she said.

“There is no magical pot of funding available to meet this moment. We are out of money – and nearly out of time”.

Jake Sullivan, Mr Biden’s national security adviser, told reporters at Monday’s daily White House press briefing that lawmakers who refuse to vote for the supplemental funding bill because of an objection to Ukraine defence aid are “voting for an outcome that will make it easier for Putin to prevail”.

“A vote against supporting Ukraine is a vote to improve Putin’s strategic position. That’s just an inescapable reality, that’s not speaking to someone’s motive or why they chose to vote against it, that’s just speaking to the outcome of their vote,” Mr Sullivan said.

“A vote against supplemental funding for Ukraine will hurt Ukraine and help Russia. It will hurt democracy and help dictators, and we think that that is not the right lesson of history, and that every member —Democrat and Republican — should vote to support this,” he added.

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