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Biden signs foreign aid bill providing crucial military assistance to Ukraine

By Michael Williams, Arlette Saenz and Kevin Liptak, CNN

Washington (CNN) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed into law an aid package providing crucial military assistance to Ukraine, capping months of negotiations and debate.

The aid package, passed by the Senate late Tuesday evening and worth $95 billion in total, includes nearly $61 billion in aid to Ukraine, $26 billion for the Israel-Hamas conflict – including $15 billion in Israeli military aid, $9 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza and $2.4 billion for regional US military operations – and $8 billion for the Indo-Pacific. The package also includes a bill that could eventually lead to the banning of TikTok in the United States – giving Chinese parent company ByteDance roughly nine months to sell it or else it will be banned from app stores in the United States.

Wearing a US-Ukrainian flag pin and speaking from the White House after signing the bill on Wednesday, Biden said it was a “good day for America, a good day for Ukraine and a good day for world peace.”

The aid package, Biden said, is “going to make America safer. It’s going to make the world safer. And it continues America’s leadership in the world.”

The signing of the aid package was the culmination of months of tense negotiations, personal lobbying from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and a split in the House Republican conference that continues to threaten the leadership position of House Speaker Mike Johnson. Hardline House conservatives opposed further US funding to Kyiv and threatened to oust Johnson over his handling of the negotiations. Conservatives in Congress have opposed additional assistance for what they view as an unwinnable war.

Biden had spent months lobbying Johnson to move forward with aid to Ukraine, enlisting top administration officials and CIA Director Bill Burns to lay out the stakes for Ukraine – and ultimately democracy in Europe and across the world – if Russia continued to make inroads in its military campaign there.

Earlier this year, Biden signaled his intentions to make significant immigration-related concessions if Congress were to move forward with the aid bill. Republicans in Congress had demanded those concessions, but retreated from the issue after former President Donald Trump signaled his opposition to allowing Biden to claim a win on an issue Trump hopes to campaign on.

He acknowledged the bumpy road to get the package passed in his remarks on Wednesday.

“It was a difficult path,” Biden said. “It should have been easier. It should have gotten there sooner. But in the end, we did what America always does: We rose to the moment, came together. We got it done.”

Spending the bulk of his remarks talking about the Ukraine aid, Biden noted that Russia has “been responsible for a brutal campaign against Ukraine.”

“They’ve killed tens of thousands of Ukrainians,” Biden said, “bombed hospitals … kindergartens, grain silos, tried to plunge Ukraine into a cold dark winter.”

But left unsaid in that statement is something that is likely to cause further frustrations from Biden’s left flank: Israel has also been accused of targeting hospitals in Gaza, using hunger as a weapon of war and carrying out an imprecise military campaign that has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians, many of them children. The aid package includes billions of dollars worth of additional military equipment for that country.

Some of the Democrats who voted against the bill cited the Israel aid as the reason why they did so.

The final vote in the Senate was 79-18. Fifteen Republicans voted with two Democrats and an independent against the bill. Among the senators who voted against the bill was Sen. Bernie Sanders, who spent time with Biden earlier this week and said he was against further US funding of Israel’s war in Gaza.

“Enough is enough,” Sanders said in a post on X shortly after the bill’s passage. “No more money for [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s war machine.”

Funding going to Ukraine quickly

The bill’s effects will be felt most quickly and acutely on battlefields in Ukraine, whose soldiers have faced ammunition shortages and battlefield losses in the absence of US assistance this year.

Biden said the shipments of military supplies to Ukraine will begin “in the next few hours,” and would include air-defense equipment and munitions for artillery and rocket systems, along with armored vehicles.

The Pentagon announced a $1 billion aid package would go to Ukraine just moments after Biden signed the bill into law.

Among the capabilities included in the new package is ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), artillery rounds, RIM-7 and AIM-9M air defense missiles, Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, and more. It also includes various logistics and tactical vehicles, anti-armor systems, training munitions and spare parts, and small arms ammunition including .50 caliber rounds to counter drones.

CNN reported Tuesday that administration officials have indicated to Congress the US would send long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems, or ATACMS, a system Ukraine has long asked for. The Pentagon revealed it already sent those long-range missiles earlier this month after Biden spoke.

Biden secretly approved the transfer of the long-range missiles in February for use inside Ukrainian territory. The ATACMS missiles were then quietly included in the $300 million aid package announced on March 12 and ultimately delivered to Ukraine earlier this month, according to Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Garron Garn.

“It was not announced that we are providing Ukraine with this new capability at the time in order to maintain operational security for Ukraine at their request,” Garn said, deferring questions about their use to Ukraine’s military.

Last fall, the US first sent Ukraine the mid-range variant of the ATACMS missile system, which can reach about 100 miles, while the longer-range version can reach as far as 190 miles.

Ukrainian officials have been asking the US in private and in public for the long-range missiles to target deeper behind Russian lines. American officials have previously resisted, citing supply issues and concerns about further provoking Moscow if they are deployed.

Biden’s campaign will continue to use TikTok

Biden’s campaign will still utilize TikTok to reach voters, officials say, despite Biden signing the potential ban into law.

The decision underscores the fraught dynamic of the platform, which is owned by a Chinese company. While national security officials, including those in the Biden administration, have warned of its risks, it remains enormously popular with young Americans, who Biden will rely upon to win reelection.

Asked Wednesday whether the campaign would continue using the app, an official said it would.

“A fragmented media environment requires us to show up and meet voters where they are – and that includes online,” the official said. “TikTok is one of many places we’re making sure our content is being seen by voters. When the stakes are this high in the election, we are going to use every tool we have to reach young voters where they are. We are using enhanced security measures.”

Biden joined Tiktok earlier this year, and often posts video meant to contrast his policies with Trump, who is not on the platform.

The bill Biden signed Wednesday gives TikTok’s Chinese parent, ByteDance, 270 days to sell TikTok. Failure to do so would lead to significant consequences: TikTok would be prohibited from US app stores and from “internet hosting services” that support it.

That would effectively restrict new downloads of the app and interaction with its content. Biden’s decision to sign the bill on Wednesday puts the deadline for a sale at January 19, 2025. Under the legislation, however, Biden could extend the deadline another 90 days if he determines the company’s made progress toward a sale, giving TikTok potentially up to a year before facing a ban.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to more precisely describe the aid bill and what it supports in Israel and Gaza during the ongoing conflict.

CNN’s Haley Britzky, Oren Liebermann and Natasha Bertrand contributed to this report.

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