Biden signs $95 bln foreign military aid package, TikTok bill

2024-04-25 Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

The United States' latest foreign military aid package has sailed through Congress despite some vociferous opposition inside and outside Washington DC.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed into law the $95 billion legislation that includes $61 billion in aid to Ukraine, $26 billion for Israel, as well as $1 billion in humanitarian assistance to Gaza, and $8 billion for Taiwan to counter China in the Pacific.

The impact of the legislation was immediate. Biden said he had approved an initial $1 billion in weapons supplies for Ukraine, and that the flow of the arms would start within hours.

The aid package includes Stinger air defense munitions, additional ammunition for high-mobility artillery rocket systems, 155mm artillery ammunition, TOW and Javelin anti-tank munitions and other weapons that can immediately be sent to the battlefield.

Meanwhile, Ukraine for the first time has begun using long-range ballistic missiles provided secretly by the United States, bombing a Russian military airfield in Crimea last week and Russian forces in another occupied area overnight, American officials confirmed Wednesday.

Biden thanked House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson, the top Republican in Washington, for breaking the deadlock on the legislation.

Johnson's support for the bill, however, put him on shaky standing with the right wing of the GOP, with some members backing a motion to vacate his speakership.

Biden also blamed "MAGA Republicans" loyal to former president Donald Trump for blocking the aid for months, referring to Trump's Make America Great Again slogan.

The president also signed a separate bill tied to the aid legislation that bans TikTok in the United States if its owner, Beijing-based ByteDance, fails to divest the popular short-video app over the next nine months to a year.

The social media platform is particularly popular with young Americans, and TikTok says it has 170 million users in the U.S..

Trump, Biden's presumptive election opponent in November, supported a sale or ban of TikTok in 2020 but was blocked by the courts. Trump has opposed the recent move to ban the app, saying Biden supported the ban "to help his friends over at Facebook become richer and more dominant".

"Frankly, there are a lot of people on TikTok that love it," Trump said on his Truth Social. "There are a lot of young kids on TikTok who will go crazy without it."

The additional aid for Israel also comes as American college campuses are seeing increasing pro-Palestinian protests.

House Speaker Johnson went to the Columbia University campus in New York on Wednesday to support Jewish students after calling for university President Minouche Shafik to resign. He said he met briefly with Shafik and asked her to take more action against the protesters. Johnson's remarks outdoors were met with persistent boos and chants.

Congress' stalemate on the Ukraine aid bill ended when the Republican-controlled House abruptly changed course and approved four bills on Saturday by a vote of 316-94, with 21 House members not voting.

Many members of the House waved small Ukrainian flags when the Ukraine aid passed, a video on X showed.

"Ukrainian flags fly in the chamber of the UNITED STATES House of Representatives as they vote to send more of your hard-earned money to a corrupt foreign regime," Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, posted on X on April 20.

The U.S. Senate followed the House on Tuesday evening, approving the package by a vote of 79-18. Three Republican senators — Rand Paul, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama — didn't vote.

David Stockman, a former U.S. congressman who was the director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Reagan administration, called the aid package the "final straw".

"The dreadful grip of the UniParty (Democrats and Republicans) on national security policy has finally produced sheer madness in a single package," Stockman wrote on

"It is bad enough that there is not an iota of informed consideration behind any of this. But what is really alarming is that every single House Democrat (210) voted in favor of $61 billion for the Ukrainian Demolition Derby.

"This included a 97-0 vote among so-called Dem 'progressives', who also voted 96-0 in favor of aid to Taiwan — the purpose of which is surely not a more pacific neighborhood on the Pacific Rim," he wrote. "Once upon a time, the Democrats were the party of the peace candidates.

"At the same time, only 14 Republicans voted against all four components of this wholesale assault on constitutional liberty and fiscal rectitude. As we have previously documented, America is now careening on fiscal automatic pilot toward a $140 trillion public debt by mid-century."

Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, said of the Ukraine aid in a recent interview: "The U.S. debt goes up by another $61 billion, which is a lot of money for Americans that need the money. And nothing helps Ukraine right now. All it does is prolong the dying. It prolongs the destruction."

U.S. Representative Byron Donalds, a Florida Republican, posted on X: "Government has sent billions to Ukraine while completely neglecting the historic nat-sec crisis at OUR border."

A recent Monmouth University poll found that only 4 in 10 Americans are in favor of the recently passed bills to provide aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, with 35 percent opposed. The nationwide poll was conducted April 18-22.

"The foreign aid package may be a big policy win, but politically it's a wash for Speaker Johnson," said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.


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