Crisis Deepens as Aid to Israel and Ukraine Stalls
Author: Greg Valliere
October 25, 2023
FOUR ENORMOUSLY IMPORTANT BILLS are in grave jeopardy, sending a signal to U.S. allies and adversaries that Washington cannot govern. Not only is the House paralyzed — now even the Senate is balking over huge new spending on Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan and U.S. border security.
ONCE THE PATHETIC HOUSE agrees on a speaker (Rep. Mike Johnson has a chance of winning this week), a new speaker wouldn’t necessarily resolve the legislative impasse. Timing is crucial, as the winter mud season begins in Ukraine and Israel faces weeks of horrific fighting in Gaza’s tunnels, which are filled with hidden explosives.
THIS IMPASSE IS AN ACUTE EMBARRASSMENT — it’s not just a fight over control of the House — but this is sending a signal that U.S. allies cannot count on help from Washington. For months the great fear has been a loss of resolve in the U.S. — and sure enough, Congress has stalled on aid, which cannot pass without a speaker.
REELING REPUBLICANS HAD A POTENTIAL SPEAKER FOR A FEW HOURS yesterday, but Rep. Tom Emmer’s nomination was shot down by the far right — led by Donald Trump, who boasted that “I killed” the Emmer nomination. The next option is Rep. Johnson, and now some members are considering a desperate move — restoring Rep. Kevin McCarthy as speaker, with Rep. Jim Jordan as assistant speaker. Good luck with that.
STILL ANOTHER OBSTACLE TO FOREIGN AID has emerged in the Senate: This battle, typically arcane and pointless, is over the scope of an aid package — separate funding for Israel, which would pass easily, or legislation that would combine aid for Ukraine, Taiwan and the U.S. southern border?
THE COMBINATION PACKAGE that the White House sent over “is dead,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.). “The appropriators in the Senate can begin by basically starting over.”
BOTTOM LINE: Regardless of the House speaker fight, it now appears that crucial aid for Israel and Ukraine has stalled and is unlikely to pass before the Nov. 17 budget deadline. The mood on Capitol Hill is grim — legislation may not pass until the Christmas break or later. Again, what must U.S. allies be thinking?
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