White House asks Congress for $106 billion for Ukraine, Israel

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The White House on Friday asked Congress for nearly $106 billion to fund ambitious plans for Ukraine, Israel and U.S. border security, but offered no strategy for securing the money from a broken Congress.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s request for the funding comes days after he visited Israel and pledged solidarity as the country bombards Gaza following an attack by Hamas militants that killed 1,400 people in southern Israel.

By grouping Israel funding with Ukraine, border security, refugee assistance, measures to counter China and other hotly debated priorities, Biden is hoping he has created a must-pass national security spending bill that can win support in a chaotic House of Representatives.

The chamber, which Republicans won control of last year, has been without a leader for more than two weeks.

Some Republican lawmakers have grown skeptical of the need to fund Ukraine’s war with Russia, and have threatened to halt government altogether to put an end to debt-fueled fiscal spending.

“The world is watching and the American people rightly expect their leaders to come together and deliver on these priorities,” said Biden’s budget director, Shalanda Young, in a letter to acting House speaker Patrick McHenry. “I urge Congress to address them as part of a comprehensive, bipartisan agreement in the weeks ahead.”

In a call with reporters, Young said the role of the White House is to lay out the country’s needs and the stakes, not to meddle in the speakership battle.

Some $14.3 billion of the funding for the 2024 fiscal year would be dedicated to Israel, much of it to support the country’s air and missile defense systems and other weapons purchases. Israel has vowed to wipe out Hamas, which rules Gaza, after the Islamist militant group’s Oct. 7 attack.

Biden also wants more than $9 billion for humanitarian relief, including for Israel and Gaza, where the population faces a worsening humanitarian crisis.

The proposal also includes $13.6 billion for U.S. border security to deal with large numbers of Latin American and Caribbean immigrants at the southern border as well as fentanyl trade and $4 billion in military assistance and government financing designed to counter China’s regional efforts in Asia.

But the largest share of funding, $61.4 billion, would be for Ukraine. The request includes billions to replenish the country’s military equipment, providing economy and security aid and support for refugees in the United States.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, Jarrett Renshaw and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alistair Bell)