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Biden makes case that aid for Israel and Ukraine will "pay dividends for American security"

Biden's Oval Office address on Israel, Ukraine
Watch: President Biden delivers Oval Office address on Israel, Ukraine | Special Report 22:15

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Washington — Addressing the nation from the White House on Thursday night, President Biden made the case to the country and to Congress that the United States must pass $100 billion in supplemental funding, including billions in wartime aid for Israel and Ukraine. 

The president's address, only his second from the Oval Office, comes on the heels of a whirlwind trip to Israel, where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Isaac Herzog. In an impassioned speech, Mr. Biden said that America must again act as a "beacon to the world," and insisted that the needs of the people of Israel and Ukraine are vital to the United States' national security interests. 

"American leadership is what holds the world together. American alliances are what keep us, America, safe," the president said. "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, if we turn our backs on Israel. It's just not worth it. 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. It's a smart investment that's going to pay dividends for American security for generations."

A source familiar with the supplemental request said it includes $60 billion for Ukraine and replenishing U.S. stockpiles, $14 billion for Israel, $10 billion for humanitarian efforts, $14 billion for the U.S. border with Mexico and $7 billion for the Indo-Pacific region. The White House has not yet released details. 

"I know these conflicts can seem far away, and it's natural to ask, 'Why does this matter to America?'" Mr. Biden said. "So let me share with you why making sure Israel and Ukraine succeed is vital for America's national security. You know, history has taught us that when terrorists don't pay a price for their terror, when dictators don't pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos and death and more destruction. They keep going. And the cost and the threats to America and the world keep rising."

President Biden Delivers Address On The Israel-Hamas War
President Biden delivers a primetime address to the nation on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023.  Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/Bloomberg via Getty Images

At a time when Congress is divided, the president said the United States "can't let petty, partisan, angry politics get in the way of our responsibility as a great nation. We cannot and will not let terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin win. I refuse to let that happen." 

While Mr. Biden reaffirmed the United States' intense commitment to Israel and the Israeli people, he also stressed the humanity of Palestinians who simply want peace. He also strongly condemned any displays of hatred against Jews, Muslims or Palestinians here in the United States. 

"We must without equivocation denounce antisemitism," he said. "We must also without equivocation denounce Islamophobia."

Mr. Biden and his aides had been working on the speech throughout the course of the week, including on Air Force One on the way back from Israel.

In Israel, the president announced the U.S. would give $100 million to help civilians in Gaza and the West Bank, while declaring America's unwavering support for Israel.

"I come to Israel with a single message — you're not alone," the president said in remarks at the conclusions of his meetings in Tel Aviv. "As long as the United States stands, and we will stand forever, we will not let you ever be alone."

But passing any aid is impossible for now. Congress has been paralyzed for over two weeks without an elected House speaker. Republicans have been unable to elect a new speaker after a small group of Republicans voted with Democrats to oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy earlier this month. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told CBS News "Face the Nation" moderator and chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Brennan the Senate is "going to look over this whole package very carefully." 

"Well, we want to make sure we're not sending money to Hamas," McConnell told Brennan. "I can tell you that. But there are genuine humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza who are not Hamas, that have been thrown under the bus by what Hamas did. Innocent people. But we want to be careful about how the money is spent, be sure it actually gets where it's supposed to get — which is part of what I'm saying here — we're going to look over this whole package very carefully because it is a lot of money."

Israel suffered more than 1,400 deaths in the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas, and 3,500 were injured. Thirty-one U.S. citizens were among the dead, and 13 remain unaccounted for, some of them believed to be held hostage by the U.S.-designated terrorist group. Mr. Biden told reporters on the way back from Tel Aviv that "we're going to get people out, and quickly" but said he couldn't discuss details.

Meanwhile, Israel is continuing airstrikes on Gaza, where Palestinian officials say almost 3,800 have been killed. Mr. Biden said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi agreed to allow up to 20 trucks of humanitarian aid into Gaza through the Rafa gate. But if Hamas confiscates the aid or doesn't allow it through, the humanitarian aid will cease.

The president told reporters on Wednesday that he was "very blunt" with the Israelis. He said Israel has been "badly victimized," but if they have an opportunity to relieve the suffering of people "who have nowhere to go," they should. If Israel doesn't, "you're going to lose credibility worldwide," he said. Mr. Biden said he received "no pushback" from Netanyahu or other Israeli leaders on allowing humanitarian aid. 

The president was supposed to meet with Arab leaders in Jordan on Wednesday, but Jordan's foreign minister canceled the meeting, and the U.S. scrapped the stop from the Middle East trip. 

— Christina Ruffini contributed to this report. 

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