US Senate Passes $95.3b Package For Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan And Indo-Pacific

The US Senate has voted overwhelmingly to provide a USD 95.3 billion aid package to Ukraine and Israel and to strengthen the security of America and its allies in the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan.

The final approval on Tuesday night by the Senate ends months of uncertainty and delays about whether the US would continue to back Kyiv in its fight against Russian aggression.

The bill was passed in a bipartisan vote of 79-18.

The bill passed on Tuesday by the House of Representatives earlier now heads to the White House for President Joe Biden to sign it into law.

I will sign this bill into law and address the American people as soon as it reaches my desk tomorrow so we can begin sending weapons and equipment to Ukraine this week,” Biden said in a statement.

“The need is urgent: for Ukraine, facing unrelenting bombardment from Russia; for Israel, which just faced unprecedented attacks from Iran; for refugees and those impacted by conflicts and natural disasters around the world, including in Gaza, Sudan, and Haiti; and for our partners seeking security and stability in the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

The bill broadly has four parts: First, a USD 60.8 billion Ukraine aid measure, a USD 26.4 billion bill for Israel and humanitarian relief, a USD 8.1 billion package for Taiwan and other Indo-Pacific region allies and a “sidecar” bill dealing with issues ranging from TikTok to frozen Russian assets.

The bill gives USD 23.2 billion to replenish stocks of US weapons and equipment sent to Ukraine through presidential drawdown authority and to expand defence industrial base and it allocates USD 13.8 billion in direct support for the Ukrainian military. It directs the president to transfer long-range tactical missiles, known as ATACMS, to the Ukrainian Army, unless the president determines that doing so would be detrimental to US security interests.

The bill gives USD 5.4 billion to replenish stocks of US weapons and equipment delivered to Israel and to expand the defence industrial base, USD 5.2 billion for Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Iron Beam defence systems and USD2.4 billion for US Central Command operations in the Middle East.

It also allocates USD 9.2 billion for humanitarian assistance in Gaza, Haiti, Sudan, Ethiopia, Congo and other conflict zones. However, no funds can be transferred to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency; certification is required that no funding is diverted to Hamas.

On the Indo-Pacific the bill allocates USD 3.3 billion to develop US submarine infrastructure, including dry dock construction; USD2 billion in assistance for Taiwan, the Philippines and other regional allies to purchase US weapons and equipment.

To replenish US stocks of weapons and equipment sent to the region and expand the defence industrial base USD 2 billion was allocated; USD 542 million for US Indo-Pacific Command operations and USD 250 million for World Bank International Development Association loans and grants.

Among other things, the bill requires Chinese-owned ByteDance Ltd. to divest its stake in TikTok within one year of enactment or US app stores and internet hosting services would be barred from carrying the product.

It bans data brokers from selling Americans’ personal information to countries such as China, Russia, Iran and North Korea or organisations controlled by those governments.

The bill authorises the seizure of frozen Russian assets in the US for transfer to a “Ukraine Support Fund” for economic assistance and creates an international fund to receive frozen Russian assets from foreign partners to compensate Ukraine.

It also imposes sanctions on Iranian oil exports and ballistic-missile technology as well as Iranian leaders; on Hamas and affiliated organizations; and on individuals involved in the trafficking of Captagon.

The components of the bill are nearly identical to one that passed the Senate with bipartisan support in February. It includes USD 60.8 billion for Ukraine; USD 26.4 billion for Israel and humanitarian aid for civilians in conflict zones, including Gaza; and USD 8.1 billion for the Indo-Pacific region.

Nine Republicans who opposed the Senate-passed aid legislation in February supported the bill this time.

When Senator Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma changed his vote on Tuesday, this time agreeing to advance the legislation, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, gave him a thumbs-up on the Senate floor.

“Seventy-five per cent of the bill, the total funding, stays within the United States,” Mullin said on Newsmax, explaining his support for the bill.

“That’s what a lot of people don’t realise. This goes to our defence industry; this goes to replenishing our munitions.”

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