Dec 6, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Biden stressed willingness to compromise in urging Congress to fund Ukraine

President Biden speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden called on Congress to pass a measure to approve continued aid to Ukraine on Wednesday, days after the White House warned that funding would run out by the end of the year.

The big picture: Additional aid for Ukraine is tied up by demands from some Republicans to tighten U.S. asylum and parole laws for migrants.

  • Biden gave his speech minutes after he ended a virtual meeting with the leaders of the G7 countries and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

What he's saying: "Congress has to uphold the national security needs of the United States and quite frankly, of our partners as well," Biden said in his remarks from the White House.

  • Biden called it "stunning" that Congress has yet to vote on Ukraine funding, and that failure to give additional money to the nation would be "the greatest gift Putin could hope for."

"Extreme Republicans are playing chicken with our national security holding Ukraine funding hostage to their extreme border policies," Biden said, adding he was willing to compromise on border issues, but claimed Republicans are so far unwilling to negotiate.

  • "Today's vote is going to be long remembered. History is going to judge harshly those who turn their back on freedom's cause — because we can't let Putin win. Say it again. We can't let Putin win," Biden said.

Context: Congress is facing a time crunch, and a host of duties to accomplish before the session concludes next week.

  • A test vote on the national security bill is scheduled for later Wednesday in the Senate, though expectations are for GOP senators to block the bill as both parties remain in a stalemate.
  • On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) encouraged members to vote no on the measure "to make the point, hopefully for the final time, that we insist on meaningful changes to the border."

That message was echoed by House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) in a separate press conference on Tuesday: "Any national security package has to begin with the security of our own border," he said. "That is a necessary condition to anything we do going forward."

  • Biden cautioned Congress that the "entire world is watching what the U.S. is going to do," ahead of the vote. "We're the reason Putin has not totally overrun Ukraine and moved beyond that. This is critical. Petty partisan, angry politics can't get in the way of our responsibility as a leading nation in the world."
Go deeper