U.S. military and diplomatic leaders urge a divided Congress to send aid to both Israel and Ukraine

An anti-war activist shouts in protest as Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin make the case to the Senate Appropriations Committee that the United States should immediately send aid to Israel and Ukraine, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — The nation’s top military and diplomatic leaders urged an increasingly divided Congress on Tuesday to send immediate aid to Israel and Ukraine, arguing at a Senate hearing that broad support for the assistance would signal U.S. strength to adversaries worldwide.

The testimony from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the Senate Appropriations Committee came as the administration’s massive $105 billion emergency aid request for conflicts in the two countries encountered roadblocks.

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While there is bipartisan support in the Democratic-led Senate for aid to both Ukraine and Israel, the request faces deep problems in the Republican-led House. New Speaker Mike Johnson has proposed focusing on Israel alone, and slashing money for the Internal Revenue Service to pay for it.

As the congressional divisions deepen, Blinken and Austin warned that the consequences of failing to help Ukraine in its war with Russia and Israel as it strikes back against Hamas would be dire. Inaction, they said, would threaten the security of the U.S. and the rest of the world.

“We now stand at a moment where many are again making the bet that the United States is too divided or distracted at home to stay the course,” Blinken said. “That is what is at stake.”

Austin said that if the United States fails to lead, “the cost and the threats to the United States will only grow. We must not give our friends, our rivals, or our foes any reason to doubt America’s resolve.”

President Joe Biden has requested $14.3 billion for Israel, $61.4 billion to support Ukraine, $9.1 billion for humanitarian efforts in Gaza and elsewhere and $7.4 billion for the Indo-Pacific, where the U.S. is focused on countering China’s influence. Some of the Ukraine funding would go toward replenishing domestic stockpiles of weapons that have already been provided.

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