War in Ukraine: US Senate agrees on new aid to kyiv in exchange for tougher US migration policy

The American Senate reached an agreement on Sunday February 4 between Democrats and Republicans to release new aid to Ukraine and Israel and to toughen the United States' migration policy

War in Ukraine: US Senate agrees on new aid to kyiv in exchange for tougher US migration policy

The American Senate reached an agreement on Sunday February 4 between Democrats and Republicans to release new aid to Ukraine and Israel and to toughen the United States' migration policy. President Joe Biden called for the text to be “passed quickly.”

The deal, totaling $118.3 billion in funding, includes $60 billion in aid for Kiev's war effort against Russia's invasion and $14.1 billion for Israel, according to a summary released by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray. It also provides an envelope of $20.2 billion for migration policy reforms, the subject of fierce debate between Republican and Democratic negotiators.

The text's release was quickly approved by the White House, which highlighted decades-long efforts to reform the nation's "broken" immigration system.

“We reached a bipartisan agreement on national security that includes the strongest and fairest migration reforms in decades. I strongly support it,” Joe Biden responded in a statement, urging Congress to “adopt it quickly.” It must be “brought to my desk so that I can promulgate it immediately,” he added.

Blockage expected in the House of Representatives

The adoption of this 370-page bill is, however, far from guaranteed, with more and more Republicans in the House of Representatives opposing the sending of new funds to Ukraine.

The text must at least obtain the assent of sixty parliamentarians to pass the first procedural vote in the Senate, expected on Wednesday at the latest.

Biden also urged Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, to support this bipartisan agreement, despite the call not to do so by Donald Trump, their likely candidate for the White House. “If you believe, as I do, that we need to secure the border now, doing nothing is not an option,” he said.

The United States, by far the primary military supporter of Ukraine, has been struggling for several months to validate this envelope, insistently demanded by President Joe Biden and his counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.

Two years after the start of a bogged-down war – and more than $110 billion already released by Congress – Republicans, in particular, began to find the bill too high.

Aware that the sense of urgency has faded in Washington since the start of the war in 2022, President Biden asked Congress in October to combine his request for aid for Ukraine with another for Israel, an ally of the United States, at war against the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

He also wanted to include a drastic reform of the United States' migration policy, a politically hot topic, which is all the more so in the middle of an election year.

To be adopted, this envelope must be approved in the Senate, where it should in theory obtain the support of elected officials from both parties, then in the House of Representatives. This is where things get complicated. Its president, speaker Mike Johnson, a loyal supporter of Donald Trump, warned at the end of January that as things stand, there will be a vote on new funding for aid to Ukraine as well as for strengthening the border with Mexico. was “stillborn.” But he then appeared to change his mind, telling Fox Business last Friday that he was “not prejudging anything.”

Since the start of the conflict, the Kremlin has been banking on the decline in Western aid, and any hesitation from kyiv's allies reinforces Russia's belief that its bet will be a winner. At the end of December, the United States released its last tranche of military aid available for Ukraine.

Significant restrictions on immigration

On the issue of immigration, Mr. Biden asserts a firm but more “humanist” approach than that of his predecessor, whose controversial measures led to the separation of families at the US-Mexico border.

The text provides for more severe restrictions in the system for processing asylum applications and a brake when crossings exceed 5,000 people per week.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to close our open border and give future administrations the effective tools they need to end border chaos and protect our country,” agreed Oklahoma Senator James Lankford, lead Republican negotiator, in a statement.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the bill "a monumental step toward strengthening America's national security abroad and along our borders."