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Breaking down Biden’s $95 billion aid package for US allies

The legislation signed by President Joe Biden allocates $95 billion in emergency spending for aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. However, critics argue that the aid package reflects US efforts to maintain global leadership amid a potential power grab by China. 

In late April, President Joe Biden signed a $95 billion bipartisan emergency spending law to provide aid for US allies Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.

An estimated $26 billion is allocated for Israel to boost its defenses in the Israel-Hamas war. The package also includes $9 billion for humanitarian purposes in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank.

As for Ukraine, $60.84 billion is to be provided to replenish stockpiles of weapons from the US and develop the nation’s military and non-military assistance, which includes the salaries of government personnel.

Additionally, Biden’s ally in the Asia-Pacific, Taiwan, is set to get $8.12 billion from the aid package.

Reponses from nations

On the Israel front, despite the allocation made for humanitarian assistance, any funding to the United Nations Fund for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) has been barred after Israel accused the organisation’s staff of being involved in the October 7 attacks by Hamas.

This suspension has put significant pressure on UNRWA, jeopardizing its ability to provide essential services to over 1.7 million Palestinians.

However, other countries from the West, such as Spain, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, have resumed or increased their funding to UNRWA.

Unsurprisingly, the portion allocated to Ukraine was negatively received by the Russians. Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, described the approval of aid to Ukraine as anticipated and foreseen.

He suggested that it would benefit the US economically but negatively impact Ukraine, potentially leading to more Ukrainian casualties, which he attributed to the Kyiv government.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned that Russia will give ‘an unconditional and resolute response’ to the US becoming more involved in the Ukraine war.

With increasing friction in the South China Sea, the Taiwanese Ministry stated that it would collaborate with the US through established exchange mechanisms to coordinate the allocation of funds. Furthermore, it pledged to enhance combat readiness capabilities to safeguard national security and maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

Why did the legislation take time to pass?

The legislation that seems like a massive feat on the end of the US was not approved overnight and took months of delays and contentious debate to be approved.

The White House had requested the foreign aid package in October 2023, but there was uncertainty surrounding its future amid opposition from the newly installed House Speaker Mike Johnson.

Johnson’s appointment to the House introduced a period of transition, uncertainty, and the need to establish new leadership priorities, leading to delay. However, compromises were made by both the Democratic and Republican parties that got the ball rolling again on the package.

The initial $118 billion aid package faced stern opposition, so it was scaled down to $95 billion to gain more Republican support.

The House also added language requiring Biden to seek repayment from Ukraine for around $10 billion in economic assistance, another concession to gain GOP backing. Biden even personally lobbied Johnson to move the aid package forward, enlisting top administration officials to emphasize the importance of the assistance.

The final Senate vote was 79-18, with 15 Republicans joining Democrats and an independent to pass the legislation.

Personal incentive behind the package

Such a huge aid package has many strings attached. In fact, the whopping $95 billion was not just about providing crucial assistance to these countries, but also a strategic move by the US to mitigate its fear of losing its global leadership role.

The country is facing a shifting landscape in its global leadership role, with various factors contributing to a perception of decline. Amid the Russia-Ukraine war and the Israel-Hamas war, the US is experiencing challenges that are constantly impacting its standing on the world stage.

In layman’s terms, the inability of the nation to effectively mediate both wars has contributed to a perception of decline in its global leadership position.

Moreover, the emergence of a multipolar world order, marked by China’s economic and military rise, Russia’s strategic maneuvers, and contradictory values in American leadership is reshaping international power dynamics.

Speculation is now growing about the potential replacement of the US by China in key leadership positions.

Such fear has played a significant role in bringing together the key players in US politics – the Democrats and Republicans both granted passage of the recent aid bill with overwhelming support.

The package’s approval signifies a recognition within Congress that maintaining America’s leadership role requires a united front, catalyzing a display of rare bipartisan cooperation between both Houses.

The aid package arrives with hopes of bolstering the country’s position on the world stage against China.

Additionally, it seeks to showcase the country’s economic and military capabilities, reinforcing its image as a reliable partner in times of crisis. This strategic move underscores the US’s intent to maintain its influence on international relationships.