Senate to Vote on $118B Bill to Support Israel Genocide, Extending Ukraine War, and Mexico Border Control
ON 02/06/2024 AT 07 : 13 AM
After a marathon session which concluded on February 4, and with some cleaning up of final language yesterday, the Senate completed a draft bill long-awaited by the White House. What is not clear is whether it does enough to satisfy the embedded U.S.-Mexico border control issues the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is demanding.
The 370-page proposed legislation was architected by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell with the twin goals of supporting Team Biden’s disastrous foreign policy strategy of propping up its existing proxy wars in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, while ostensibly doing something to resolve the growing illegal migration crisis at the U.S. border with Mexico.
That foreign policy strategy is served in the current bill with provisions supplying a $60 billion incremental add for military aid to the Ukrainian mafia, $14 billion for Israel's genocide, and $2.4 billion to support the U.S.-led offensive operations in the Red Sea. It also provides an additional $4.3 billion for support of its “deter China” allies in Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific.
What is Included in the Senate Bill and How It Got There
Support for Foreign Conflicts
The $60 billion in money for Ukraine comes after months of haggling with Congressional representatives.
The negotiations were not over the amount of money being provided. It was also not about growing revelations that much of the funding was being siphoned off once received by Ukraine by corrupt bureaucrats and military leaders, despite that on numerous occasions President Volodymyr Zelensky has sacked members of his senior leadership team on charges of corruption and misuse of military aid funds. It was not about incompetence from the lowest ranks to the highest levels of government in Ukraine, despite that Zelensky is right now firing multiple members of his senior staff and reshuffling his organization, theoretically to position it more effectively for the future but with the moves appearing more as a cosmetic action rather than anything substantial.
The money delay was also not about a more serious root issue, that with the invasion of Ukraine reaching its two-year anniversary as of the end of this month, there appears to be no strategy either to win the war or to seek peace with Russia. A reasonable debate regarding Ukraine war funding would have been over whether continued funding should have some conditions on it, to keep this from evolving into yet another never-ending conflict with the U.S. at its helm.
The delay was instead that the House did not wish to increase funding for anything requested by the White House without something to be done about border control.
That issue was also behind the sluggish response to providing the incremental $14 billion in foreign aid for Israel requested by senile Biden. There was strong support for that money in both houses of Congress, despite that the budget was primarily to keep Israel fully funded in its genocidal war against the Palestinians in Gaza.
The $14 billion is on top of several months’ worth of financial maneuvers carried out by Biden and the Department of Defense. Despite the hold on official funding, Biden used executive orders, many of which were confidential, to reallocate military equipment, spare parts, missiles, and other munitions originally intended for other purposes and keep Israel’s war machine fully operational.
The new bill also includes a provision to tap into money originally previously authorized for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and currently on hold at the direction of the White House and redistribute it for other purposes yet to be fully defined. It would do so by formally barring further distribution of funding to that agency for now in order to further the impact of the genocide. Several Palestinian children died of starvation just today and many more will be dying soon.
The UNRWA is currently under fire on false charges from Israel made on January 26 that initially up to 12 of its employees had some connection to Hamas and its October 7 attack on Israel. Even without any evidence or investigation of those claims having taken place, the United States immediately suspended payments in its over annual contribution of over $300 million of humanitarian aid to UNRWA. So too did nine other corrupt nations, also without any evidence and knowing that Israel lies as a matter of course. This has shut down continuing payments toward roughly 60% of all global funding for the UNRWA, an amount which in 2023 totaled $1.2 billion.
Days after Israel saw the strong positive response to shutting down aid to UNRWA, it added to its original claims against that agency. It first upped the number from a maximum of 12 to 190, in public statements released on January 29. Then it increased that to a charge that as much as 10% of the estimated 13,000 UNRWA humanitarian aid personnel working in Gaza were affiliated with Hamas in some way.
According to the U.S. State Department, the government has already supplied UNRWA with $120 million for the fiscal year which began on October 1. It says it has an additional $300 million which is already allocated for UNRWA but which has not yet been paid out. Under the terms of the language current Senate funding bill, that $300 million would be reallocated.
In a press briefing held about the bill yesterday, State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said the proposed law would allow shifting the $300 million away from UNRWA to other humanitarian aid organizations such as Unicef and the United Nations’ World Food Programme. He also pitched this part of the bill as still providing a way to support Palestinians in Gaza, though admittedly via a more distant path than the UNRWA would provide.
“This is tangible money that we believe will save lives and have a direct impact on Palestinian civilians, and we will redirect funding for UNRWA to other partners to provide assistance in Gaza,” Patel explained.
Besides the war funding for Israel and repurposing of the money originally targeted for Palestinians, the bill also authorizes $4.3 billion in military funding intended to continue the ongoing bombing of Yemen. The U.S. appears to be finding its Operational Prosperity Guardian effort to protect cargo ships attempting to travel in the Gulf of Aden, through the Red Sea, and via the Suez Canal is costing far more than estimated after the usual war profiteering. Despite multiple waves of reportedly precision attacks on Yemen launch installations, radar systems, and weapons caches, including the February 3 and 4 airstrikes on 36 targets in 13 targets in 13 different locations in the country, Yemen continues to stand steadfast in its determination and ability to resist the genocidal fascist forces.
Beyond that, the bill features an additional line item of $4.3 billion for U.S. allies such as the Philippines, Australia, South Korea, and possibly Japan, for the White House’s strategy of pushing back on Chinese control in the South China Sea and beyond by buying favor from corrupt politicians. Though not clear from the documents available, the funding could possibly include additional staffing of American military on bases scattered throughout Asia and the Indo-Pacific region the U.S. has been cultivating as part of its war alliance.
It is also understood to be supporting part of the Philippines’ strengthening of its naval fleet, weaponry, and munitions which has been projected at eventually totaling over $35 billion over the next five to ten years. That Philippine military buildup is related to increasing clashes with Chinese Coast Guard and other naval vessels over areas in dispute by the two countries plus Vietnam and other nations as well.
The final part of this bipartisan Senate bill involves a proposed action plan for what to do about the rapid jump in illegal migration across the border from Mexico.
That increase resulted in the number of illegal refugees making their way across the border from Mexico in Southern Texas to as many as 300,000 just for December 2023 alone. Texas responded by sending out its National Guard to secure the border with troops and barbed wire, after numerous requests to the Department of Homeland Security resulted in little to no actions. In this instance, the U.S. government sued Texas over its actions, in a case which made it to the U.S. Supreme Court over jurisdictional issues. The Feds won, but Texas refused to honor the decision. It has sent out more National Guard representatives to protect its border and is supporting efforts to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for refusing to enforce American border and immigration laws.
The proposed actions to address this in the current Senate bill include first the allocation of $20 billion targeted for investments in border control facilities. The money would be used to increase staffing of officials handling asylum cases and overall border control, enabling more effective screening for fentanyl and other drugs for those crossing the border, and expanded detention facilities. At best, it would be years before the money has any significant impact. As it is, the government can't hire enough people fill all the vacant positions.
Beyond just the money, the bill also would put in place an unusual provision that calls for automatic closure of the border if the number of those attempting to enter the country illegally exceeds 5,000 in a single week or 8,500 in a single day. That automatic shutdown would remain in place until the numbers of those attempting to enter unlawfully dropped to 75% of less of either of those values. This of course is meaningless because most of the border crossers don't cross at official border stations. It just penalizes those who need to legally cross the border. But, it does put pressure on Mexico to stem the human flow.
The proposed law also makes it tougher for migrants to be granted asylum in the U.S. It would do so in two ways, first by shifting the authority for deciding on asylum, from the current approach involving courts when there is an appeal over the issue of asylum to an internal review board. The law also requires those who are asking for asylum on grounds of having a “credible fear” of returning to their home country to justify why just moving to another part of their country would not be sufficient to protect them.
One thing the bill did not do is to change the president’s legal authority to parole illegal migrants entering the U.S. for just about any reason. Programs already in place which allow for this with migrants coming from Afghanistan, Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, Ukraine, and Venezuela would stay as they are.
There only change regarding how this group of migrants are being handled is a section drawn from the earlier Afghan Adjustment Act. This bill would finally formalize what that Act allowed for, by laying out the steps to pursue American citizenship for Afghans who escaped from their country after the U.S. defeat and retreat resulted in the Taliban taking over.
Will It Pass?
That is tough to estimate at this point, though for now it faces stronger opposition than expected in the House.
While Team-Biden praised the final draft as a bill which “will make our country safer [and] make our border more secure”, and Senator James Lankford, the Oklahoma Republican who co-sponsored the bill, called the legislation a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to close our open border,” other politicians
Senator Alex Padilla, for example, the Democratic Chair of the Senate judiciary subcommittee on immigration, citizenship, and border safety, found the new military support funding for Israel, Ukraine, and the Indo-Pacific region timely and sufficient, but thought some of the border regulation changes too much to accept.
“It is critical that we support our allies in their fight to defend democracy and provide humanitarian relief, but not at the expense of dismantling our asylum system while ultimately failing to alleviate the challenges at our border,” he said.
Washington Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jaypal was even harsher. She said the bill as written “throws immigrants under the bus.”
House Speaker Mike Johnson, who could derail the voting process on whatever final version of this bill comes across from the Senate to the House in an instant, was more critical still.
The proposed law was “even worse than expected,” Johnson wrote to his colleagues in the House in a letter on January 26, just as the near-final draft of the proposed law was close to completion. “[It] won’t even come close to ending the border crisis the President has created.”
Johnson said the bill as written was “dead on arrival” when it reaches the House. But with so many blood-thirsty psychopaths in the House eager to increase the funding for Israel’s genocide in Gaza and Ukraine to get the military aid jolt needed to refill ammunition and munitions caches in the country, Johnson may find himself under considerable pressure to reverse his position, perhaps by amending the new border rules slightly or putting tougher restrictions on the percentage of illegals still coming to the border when it shuts down according to the new law.
The House is preparing an alternate bill which would authorize the Israel portion of the funding from the Senate proposal, but in a stand-alone bill. The White House issued a statement late yesterday that Biden would veto any bill which was solely for the Israel military money and did not include the much larger Ukraine increment.
The Senate will hold a vote to approve the draft bill for hand off to the House on February 7. If it receives the 60 votes of support needed, it will then be sent on to the House for a separate vote, subject to possible revisions.