WASHINGTON — The Biden administration and key lawmakers in Congress are actively discussing whether aid to Israel could be linked to more funding for Ukraine as a strategy to pass both spending priorities, according to an administration official and two pro-Ukraine Republican lawmakers.
Lawmakers in both parties who support additional aid for Ukraine have suggested the approach as a potential way to secure funding for Kyiv despite opposition from some Republican members in the House and the Senate.
A group of House conservatives has steadfastly opposed new funding for Ukraine, which the White House has requested, and the issue is sure to be a factor in the GOP conference’s high-stakes leadership elections this week. Additional aid for Israel in the wake of Hamas’ brutal attack on Israelis is seen as less likely to face such a struggle in Congress.
The White House is quietly evaluating the political viability of linking aid for Ukraine and Israel, the administration official said, while acknowledging that ultimately the decision will be up to Congress.
The National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, Adm. John Kirby, said Monday, “Both are important, and we are a large enough, big enough, economically viable and vibrant enough country to be able to support both.”
The timing of any effort to link Ukraine and Israel funding, should such a strategy play out, is unclear. Congress faces a mid-November deadline to fund the federal government.
While the administration has already rushed additional military assistance to Israel in its war against Hamas, the White House expects action from Congress will be required for some of the additional help Israel might need. In his call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden vowed to support Israel’s requests in the coming days and weeks, the administration official said.
A Republican senator told NBC News they expect both Israel and Ukraine to be linked in a future spending bill. “I do believe that there will have to be a supplemental that includes aid to Israel as well as Ukraine given the horrific terrorist attacks by Hamas,” the senator said.
The short-term spending bill that Biden signed into law last month to avoid a government shutdown