Biden signs $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan into law

President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan emergency spending law
Wednesday to provide an additional $95 billion in aid for Ukraine,
Israel and Taiwan, ending months of behind-the-scenes maneuvering and
public pleas for Congress to approve the funding.

The package also included a measure requiring the popular app TikTok
be sold by its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, or face a possible
ban.

“It should have been easier and it should have gotten there sooner,”
Biden said of the spending. “But in the end, we did what America always
does — we rose to the moment, we came together and we got it done.”

The foreign aid funding, he said, was not just an investment in the security of American allies but of the United States itself.

“We’re sending Ukraine equipment from our own stockpiles, then we’ll
replenish those stockpiles with new products made by American companies
here in America,” Biden said. “Patriot missiles made in Arizona,
javelins made in Alabama, artillery shells made in Ohio, Pennsylvania
and Texas.”

Biden reiterated that America’s commitment to Israel is “ironclad”
and that he would ensure “Israel has what it needs to defend itself
against Iran and the terrorists that it supports.”

He also called on Israel to ensure that humanitarian aid can reach
civilians in Gaza, who are “suffering the consequences of this war that
Hamas started.”

“Israel must make sure all this aid reaches the Palestinians in Gaza
without delay,” Biden said. “And everything we do is guided by the
ultimate goal of bringing these hostages home, securing a ceasefire and
setting the conditions for an enduring peace.”

The Pentagon announced
a $1 billion military assistance package for Ukraine minutes after
Biden signed the law that includes “air defense interceptors, artillery
rounds, armored vehicles, and anti-tank weapons.”

Six months of fighting over assistance

Congress has spent the last six months debating the best way to pass the aid, after Biden sent an emergency spending request to lawmakers in October.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate insisted that changes to
border security and immigration laws accompany the military and
humanitarian assistance.

Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford, Connecticut Democratic Sen.
Chris Murphy and Arizona independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema huddled for
months before reaching a deal.

But former Republican President Donald Trump urged GOP lawmakers to
block the bill from advancing in the Senate amid concerns that it would
provide a win to the Biden administration in a policy area that weighs
heavily for many voters.

After Senate Republicans blocked a package
that included the bipartisan border security bill, that chamber moved
to pass a $95 billion emergency spending package with aid for Ukraine,
Israel and Taiwan.

That measure passed
in February, but spent the next two months stalled in the House as
Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, held a series of meetings
on whether that chamber should act.

Johnson ultimately decided to move forward, releasing four bills that would each receive separate votes, before being bundled as one package and sent to the Senate.

The $95 billion in aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan was strikingly
similar to the Senate bill with an exception that economic aid for
Ukraine be categorized as a forgivable loan.

The House voted Saturday to approve all four bills on broadly bipartisan votes and the Senate voted Tuesday night to send the package to Biden’s desk.

House GOP leaders added a measure to the emergency spending bills — called the 21st Century Peace through Strength Act
— that wrapped together numerous bills, including the one that requires
ByteDance to sell the social media app within one year or face a
possible ban within the United States.

Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, chairwoman of the
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, said Tuesday that
she found it “disturbing” the Chinese government “used TikTok to
repeatedly access U.S. user data and track multiple journalists covering
the company.”

“As of December 2023, an analysis by Rutgers University found that
TikTok posts mentioning topics that are sensitive to the Chinese
Government, including Tiananmen Square, Uighurs, and the Dalai Lama were
significantly less prevalent on TikTok than on Instagram, the most
comparable social media,” Cantwell said.

“Foreign policy issues disfavored by China and Russian Governments
also had fewer hashtags on TikTok, such as pro-Ukraine or pro-Israel
hashtags,” she added.

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark Warner, a
Virginia Democrat, said Tuesday that “it is not hard to imagine how a
platform that facilitates so much commerce, political discourse and
social debate could be covertly manipulated to serve the goals of an
authoritarian regime, one with a long track record of censorship,
transnational oppression and promotion of disinformation.”