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From The New York Times, I'm Sabrina Tavernoussie, and this is The Daily. It's been one month since the attack on Israel, but Washington has yet to deliver an aid package to its closest ally. The reason has to do with a different ally in a different war. Today, my colleague, Katie Edmondson, on the battle within the Republican Party over whether to keep funding Ukraine. It's Tuesday, November seventh. Katie, nice to see you.


Good to see you, right now.


Where am I catching you? I see some very ornate mirrors in the background.


Yeah, it's my house, actually. No, I'm in the Senate Press Gallery, which also I apologize for any noise in the background.


Katie, okay, we're going to ignore the noise and we're going to just dive into it here. We spent a lot of time over the past year talking about the many battles playing out on Capitol Hill. Of course, the most recent one was the fight among House Republicans over who would become Speaker. But the war between Hamas and Israel has created a whole new battle in Congress, and that's over the question of funding foreign wars. Israel is, of course, a very close ally of the United States. And as you know, normally we throw tons of money at our close ally, and no one would really question it. But it sounds like that's not what's happening right now. So tell me what's going on.


That's right. I mean, we're in a striking moment where we're about a month in after the war broke out and Congress has yet to send any emergency aid to Israel and actually at the moment is not close to doing so. The House introduced this sharply partisan bill for Israel funding last week, one that basically was dead on arrival in the Senate. They're back to square one on this.


Why is that?


I mean, it's extremely unusual for Congress to be having these types of partisan fights over emergency aid, especially to an ally like Israel. But what I think what we're seeing play out really reflects that it's a very fraught moment politically on Capitol Hill when it comes to funding actually a different conflict, which is the war in Ukraine.


The war in Ukraine.


Yeah, that's right. I think to really understand the dynamic of what's going on here, you have to look back to a couple of weeks ago when President Biden gave an address in the Oval Office.


Good evening, my fellow Americans. We're facing an inflection point in history. One of those moments where the decisions we make today are going to determine the future for decades to come.


Making the case essentially that it is imperative that America sends aid to Israel and continues to send aid to Ukraine as well.


The assault on Israel echoes nearly 20 months of war, tragedy, and brutality, inflicted on the people of Ukraine.


In that address, he's really linking these two conflicts together. He's linking together the importance of aiding both Israel and Ukraine.


Hamas and Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common. They both want to completely annihilate neighboring democracy, completely annihilated.


Tying those two together is a really important piece of his pitch.


American values are what make us a partner that other nations want to work with. To put all that at risk, if we walk away from Ukraine, we turn our backs on Israel, it's just not worth it.


The case he is really making in that speech was that this is an important moment for America to lead to show that we support our allies and that we support our allies crucially in standing up to tyrants and terrorists abroad.


That's why tomorrow I'm going to send to Congress an urgent budget request to fund America's national security needs to support our critical partners, including Israel and Ukraine.


I remember that speech. I remember watching it. The idea was American leadership is what holds the world together. If Putin wins, that will only embold in Hamas. These things are all connected. But why did Biden feel the need to tie the two together? Why was that important to do in the speech?


Well, it's two things, Sabrinna. One is exactly the ideology that you just articulated. That is something that the White House truly believes. But it is also nodding to a political reality on the hill that has really complicated efforts to continue sending aid to Ukraine. That is among House Republicans, funding Ukraine, continuing to send military aid to Kyiv has become a politically toxic issue for a sizable number of lawmakers and their voters. From the White House's perspective, by linking together funding for Israel, which has strong support in Washington right now, along with funding for Ukraine, the hope in the Biden administration is that they can get more of these Ukraine skeptics on board.


Okay, so Katie, let's dig into that. You've just told me a growing number of House Republicans no longer want to fund Ukraine. Break that down for me.


Well, I think that this is part of a larger trend that we started to see, honestly, when former President Donald Trump came into office, which was really the idea among Republicans that the idea of American leadership around the globe when it comes to foreign wars was actually not a positive thing, that if the US is spending money, it should be benefiting Americans rather than people abroad. But I think we really saw this crystallize when it comes to the war in Ukraine over the past year or two. And, Sabrin, I travel across the country a fair amount to go to congressional town halls, town halls that lawmakers have. Almost every single time I have been to a town hall in a deeply conservative district, congressional district, without fail, you will hear constituents extremely angry at the idea of, if I'm having trouble paying for my medication, if I'm having trouble putting dinner on the table for my family, why are we sending all of this money over to another country? That is something that lawmakers, Republican lawmakers tell me they hear all of the time that they have really metabolized. At the beginning of the war, we heard a lot of rhetoric from House Republicans saying, Putin is a tyrant.


We can't allow this to happen. We're praying for those in Ukraine. But the longer that this war has dragged out, we've heard less and less of that. We've heard more and more questions about what's the end game here? How much money can we really be expected to send over there? A lot of it is really motivated by what they're hearing from their constituents.


I mean, it makes sense to some extent, right? Because the counter-offensive in Ukraine has been going on for months. The Ukrainians haven't taken much territory.




It's hard to get people excited about dumping a lot more money into what is, from their perspective, a losing battle.


Yeah, I think there's also a lot of PTSD among voters with respect to the wars in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iraq. I talk to some Republican holsters who have looked at this issue. And what we also see in the polls is that funding Ukraine with every month essentially becomes a little less popular among Republican voters. And of course, Republican lawmakers, particularly those up for re-election every two years, want to be extremely responsive to that, and increasingly do not want to be seen taking an up or down vote on the House floor, sending billions of dollars to another country.


Katie, just to be clear, this logic of not wanting to send foreign aid to Ukraine that the constituents are talking about, why doesn't it apply to sending foreign aid to Israel in this moment for House Republicans?


Yeah, it's a really complicated answer, but the bottom line for a lot of these Republican lawmakers who are against continuing to send money to Kiv, but feel comfortable or in fact, support sending money to Israel is that they simply see Israel as being different. They see it as a long time ally of the United States, one that because of historical background, is important to support. And so when they think about their support for Israel, it's a completely different calculation than when they're thinking about Ukraine.


Basically, this Biden measure was his way of trying to salvage funding for Ukraine by riding on the coattails of this sky-high support that Israel has in Washington. Basically saying to Republicans, you guys, I know a lot of you aren't really sure about supporting Ukraine anymore, but you can't say no to Israel, right?


Yeah, that's right. But what you see from Speaker Johnson is that not only does he defy that request by deciding that he is going to put just a standalone Israel bill on the floor, but he actually moves to further spike Democrats on this vote. What we see in this bill is that he adds a provision to the bill that says in order to pay for $14 billion of new spending and emergency aid for Israel, that they're going to take back $14 billion that Congress previously had passed to help bulk up the IRS so that it could recoup more tax money. That has the added benefit of being good politics for the Republican Conference because Republicans hated that landmark bill that President Biden passed, the Inflation Reduction Act. And while Speaker Johnson says that he added this provision simply is a nod to fiscal responsibility, we actually see him in interviews, dare Democrats, wink at Democrats and say, You're going to have to show us who you'd rather support, Israel or IRS agents. This move right off the bat, infuriates Democrats, and that anger only grows when the Congressional Budget Office, which is a non-partisan budget office, comes out and says, Actually, this bill, this offset that Speaker Johnson has been touting actually is going to grow the deficit.


It's actually not financially responsible at all because the government is going to lose so much money from tax revenue.


So Democrats are basically like, no way.


I mean, look, it's a tough vote for a lot of them because a lot of them do not want to be seen as doing anything to undermine Israel, particularly at this fraught moment. But essentially, the bill that Speaker Johnson created for them to vote on ends up becoming toxic for most of them.


Of course, as you said, that bill was dead on arrival in the Senate, which is, of course, controlled by Democrats.


That's right. Hours before the House even took its vote, Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader said that the Senate wouldn't even entertain the House passed bill, that the Senate wouldn't even try to amend it somehow, and that senators would instead craft their own legislation to fund both Ukraine and Israel. The interesting twist here really is that while over in the House, we saw Republicans and Democrats are bitterly divided over this bill crafted by Speaker Johnson. Over in the Senate. There's actually a rare meeting of the minds among Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats, and the White House when it comes to Ukraine funding, which is they want to keep helping our allies in Kyiv. And that sets up what is likely to be a bitter rift within the Republican Party in the weeks to come.


We'll be right back.


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Katie, you said that there's a split among Republicans in Congress on this question of war funding for Ukraine. The House Republicans oppose it, but the Senate Republicans actually support it. So tell me about that.


Yeah, that's right. Obviously, there are a handful of exceptions, but largely what we've seen is that House Republicans view this issue as being fairly toxic for them among their voters, whereas Senate Republicans, many of them are really more in the old school style of establishment Republican who believes in a muscular US military presence abroad, believes in the idea of the US being a leader on the global stage. And really all of those viewpoints are most clearly personified in the leader of the Senate Republican Conference, Mitch McConnell, who has been really the most vocal Republican on the issue of the importance of continuing to send aid to Ukraine.


So, Mitch McConnell is tying the two together in the same way that Biden is, right? Israel and Ukraine and funding for them. That's a real contrast with the new guard in the House that's pretty opposed to US interventionism and less interested overall in foreign policy and in foreign wars.


Absolutely. Mcconnell sees this as being, I think, one of the most important political fights that is currently on the world stage, he has really taken it upon himself. I think he sees this partially as something that he wants to build into his own legacy as someone who may retire in the years to come simply because of his age. He has really been traveling across the United States, across the globe to try to make the case to Republican politicians and Republican voters that sending aid to Ukraine is a worthwhile investment. He has also been remarkably candid about how he is concerned by this rising wave of isolationist feeling in his own party. I went in and talked with him in his office May of last year. Essentially, what he said to me was not exactly these words was I wanted to show the world that the Republican conference, the Senate Republican conference does not adhere to the isolationist viewpoints of former President Donald Trump. For anyone who covers McCain, those were such strikingly candid words coming from him. I honestly nearly fell out of my chair when he said that. But I think this all points to the idea that he views this as an existential battle that he is willing to lay his own personal capital down on the line for.


This campaign for McCain really picks up in the last couple of weeks.


Some say our support for Ukraine comes at the expense of more important priorities. But as I said, every time I talk to chance, this is a false choice.


He speaks in Kentucky, his home state, of course, with the Ukrainian ambassador to make the case of why we should send more aid.


To Kyiv. The path toward greater security for all of us is simple. Help Ukraine win the war.


Pretty much every single day on the Senate floor, he uses his daily speech. The notion.


This money is distracting from America's other security priorities is non-finic.


To again make the argument that, in fact, the fight in Israel is intertwined with the fight in Ukraine, and we have to fund both, that it would be folly to think that somehow they're not connected.


So at the risk of repeating myself, the threats facing America and our allies are serious and they're intertwined. If we ignore that fact, we do so at our own peril.


And that Congress, again, must fund both Israel and Ukraine.


Now is not the time for the leader of the free world to go to sleep.


Okay, but he can't tell the House Republicans what to do, right? I mean, after all, he is a Senator. How much does his position actually matter given the fact that the GOP in the House does what it wants and really has been its own chaos agent of late?


Well, look, I think that he sees, and accurately so, that he does have a bully pulpit as the Republican leader in the Senate. It is clear that he is trying to use that to advance this argument that America should continue helping our allies in Keith. That being said, I think you're right, Sabrinah, that there are a number of House Republicans who view him as being insufficiently conservative, who don't necessarily want to take his advice for that reason on what legislation they should pass. A number of House Republicans and the ascendant far right of the Republican House, Republican conference view him as a rhino, which is Republican in name only. Which is the most derisive label you can slap on another Republican. And so what that means is that McCain's leverage really stays in the Senate. It is about keeping his own conference of Senate Republicans united around this idea of funding both Ukraine and Israel. And this matters because eventually, these two chambers are going to have to negotiate or compromise or come to some version of legislation that they both can agree on passing. Look, when it comes to negotiations, the Senate will build up a lot of leverage if they have a big block of bipartisan votes for one bill to fund both Ukraine and Israel.


Then how likely is it that this effort to get the House behind funding for Ukraine will actually succeed?


Well, there are a number of different strategies. I think that both Senate Democrats and the White House and maybe even Senate Republicans are eyeing in an attempt to get House Republicans to just swallow this bill that they really would prefer not to. One is that we are coming up against a government funding deadline at the end of next week. I think there's one school of thought that maybe you try to just roll all of this up into one big bill, a bill that keeps the government open, that funds Israel and that also funds Ukraine. It's the idea of sugar to make the medicine go down, but in this time, it's also keeping the government open, which Republicans don't really want a shutdown right now. So that is one option.


And of course, all roads lead back through Speaker Mike Johnson, right? So what does that mean for the fate of all of this?


Well, there are a couple of different dynamics at play here. One is that you have to remember that he is the very freshly elected speaker and that the speaker before him, Kevin McCarthy, was pushed out of the speaker's office because he put two critical bills on the House floor for a vote and used Democratic votes to push them through. You have to imagine those are two lessons that he's thinking a lot about right now. Now, at the same time in some of the public comments he has made, he has expressed openness to maybe trying to pair Ukraine funding with border security funding. He's showing some signs of flexibility there. But again, it is a potentially very treacherous path that he is about to walk down with really no experience. Look, I mean, this has been a crazy Congress with a lot of twists and turns. I don't want to predict how this is going to end. I do think at the end of the day, this is an issue that is so important for the White House, for Schumer, for McCainal, even for a handful of Republicans over in the House. I have to believe that they find some way to pass this to get this aid for Ukraine through and across the finish line.


But I think it's going to be a pretty bitter and messy battle.


And of course, aid to Ukraine is about a lot more than just another fight in Congress, right? It's about the biggest war in Europe since World War II that was started by Russia and preventing a critical US ally, Ukraine, from losing it. And we're coming to a moment in the war where it looks like there's actually a danger of that. The top commander there, General Zaluzhny, he told The Economist magazine last week that his army was at a stalemate, like he actually used that word. He said there'd be no, quote, deep and beautiful breakthrough like he'd been hoping. The reality is American funding has been keeping Ukraine afloat in a pretty significant way. If the US doesn't continue it, Ukraine's fight against Russia could actually collapse. I mean, not immediately, but it would happen.


Well, right, Sabrin, and it's not only operationally important, but it's symbolically important. If the US pulls its support, then potentially you have other European countries saying, Well, if the US isn't chipping in, why should we chip in? I was actually reporting in Germany for a few months over the summer and at the end of interviews with German politicians, I would say, Is there anything about US politics that I can tell you about or that you're interested in? Without fail, people would ask me about the fate of funding for Ukraine if Republicans were to take the White House in 2024, if a Republican was to come into the White House in 2025. In a lot of their minds, I think that was going to be the moment where they had to fear that maybe the plug would be pulled on Ukraine funding. I think a lot of them have been surprised now to see that that debate actually has come far earlier than they anticipated.


Right. That patience for Ukraine and funding Ukraine could be running out sooner than European allies expected. And of course, that's exactly what Putin was counting on, right? Our colleagues have reported multiple times this is a leader who understands that his competitive advantage is weighting out the West, that he will always care more than the West about Ukraine, and the West eventually will lose interest. It looks like maybe that's what's starting to happen.


Yeah, that's right. And that is really the challenge for McCain and other Republican members of Congress who want to sustain the flow of aid to Kiv. Look, it's something that I'm sure they are hearing from their European counterparts all the time, which is the idea of the US choosing to now to toke off the aid that it sends to Kiv is simply a frightening prospect.


Would in some ways, prove Vladimir Putin right?


That's right.


Okay. Katie, thank you.


Thank you, Sabrinah.


We'll be right back. Here's what else you need to know today. On Monday, Donald Trump took the witness stand for the first time in a civil trial in New York, in which he is accused of significantly inflating his net worth to defraud banks and insurers. Trump, the leading Republican contender for the presidency, brought a combative campaign-style energy to the courtroom in roughly four hours of testimony. He attacked New York's attorney general, Leticia James, who brought the case as a, quote, political hack. He derided the proceedings as unfair, and he scolded the judge over seeing the case, who, for his part, appealed to Trump's lawyer to reign in the former president, saying, quote, This is not a political rally. The Israeli military said its forces had split the Gaza Strip in two after a night of heavy airstrikes. A move that Israel said would make it more difficult for Hamas to control the enclave. Israeli officials made the announcement after two Israeli columns surrounded Gaza City, which is densely populated in the northern half of the Gaza Strip, effectively cutting it off from the south. Israeli officials have described the city as a Hamas stronghold. Also, the Gaza Health Ministry announced its latest casualty figures stating that in the past month, Israeli airstrikes have killed more than 10,000 people in Gaza.


Today's episode was produced by Rob Zipko, Carlos Prieto, Stella Tan, and Assa Tadrawadi. It was edited by Devon Taylor with help from Paige Cowot, contains original music by Dan Powell and Marion Lasano, and was engineered by Alyssa Moxley. Our theme music is by Jim Runberg and Ben Landswork of Wonderly. That's it for The Daily. I'm Sabrinna Tavernisee. See you tomorrow.