Biden administration officials are arguing that the US needs to fund the wars in Ukraine and Gaza to send a message to China in their pitch for Congress to authorize a massive $105 billion spending package that includes military aid for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan.
“What happens in Ukraine, what happens in the Middle East, also matters for the Indo-Pacific. Beyond Europe, we know that our allies, as well as our adversaries, as well as our competitors, are watching that conflict. They’re watching our response,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Tuesday, according to The South China Morning Post.
“So the funding request … is vital to secure a free and open Indo-Pacific in the face of mounting challenges in that region,” Blinken added. The hearing came after Republicans in both the House and the Senate introduced bills to separate military aid for Israel from other issues.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made the same argument at the hearing. “China would like to see the United States be unsuccessful,” Austin said. “They would like to see Russia continue to challenge us and keep us focused on that area so that we have less time, energy, and resources” to focus on the Asia Pacific.
The $105 billion request made by the White House includes $7.4 billion to advance the administration’s strategy against China in the Asia Pacific, including over $3 billion to finance submarine construction, $2 billion in assistance for regional countries, and $2 billion in military aid. It’s not clear if the $2 billion in military aid is exclusively for Taiwan.
The request also includes $61.4 billion to fund the proxy war in Ukraine for another year, $14.3 billion for Israel, $13.6 billion for border security, and $9.15 billion for humanitarian aid. The stand-alone Israel bills introduced by Republicans would also provide Israel with $14.3 billion, although the House version pays for it by cutting money from the Internal Revenue Service, which the White House is not happy about.