Israel-Hamas war rages, Biden to make Oval Office address

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Joe Biden delivers remarks in Tel Aviv on October 18. Evan Vucci/AP

President Joe Biden plans to argue the US should continue funding wars in both Israel and Ukraine during an Oval Office address Thursday, according to two administration officials.

The primetime address will take place the eve of the White House requesting north of $100 billion from Congress to deliver aid and resources to Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan and the US border with Mexico. Biden is expected to make the argument that supporting Israel and Ukraine is a matter of US national security at a time when the world is at an inflection point.

“He’s going to make the case that the cost of inaction and the cost of walking away is much higher,” according to one official.

Public opinion has been mixed on the conflicts. In a recent CNN poll, nearly all respondents were sympathetic with the Israeli people in the wake of surprise attacks launched by Hamas, but there was no clear consensus on the right level of US involvement. One-third (35%) said the US is providing the right amount of assistance — and another 36% were unsure whether the level of US assistance is appropriate. The US has long provided security assistance with Israel, which receives roughly $4 billion annually under a 10-year memorandum of understanding. The new request would provide billions more.

By contrast, support to sustain aid to Ukraine has waned significantly. An August CNN poll found 55% of respondents said Congress should not pass more funding to aid Ukraine. The partisan divide has been deepening, too: Nearly three-quarters of Republicans opposed more funding for Ukraine, while 62% of Democrats supported it.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the White House and Congress have provided more than $75 billion in funding to Kyiv, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

The Biden administration in August delivered its last so-called supplemental funding request, which encapsulates unique requests beyond traditional government programs. The proposal requested $24.1 billion to aid Ukraine through the end of the year, but Congress failed to approve it during a process to greenlight short-term federal funding.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen pledged to European leaders that the US would be able to secure support for additional aid and, in an interview with Sky News, said Washington could afford financing two wars at once.

“American(s) can certainly afford to stand with Israel and to support Israel’s military needs, and we also can and must support Ukraine in its struggle against Russia,” Yellen said.


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