News Articles

Biden signs foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel, with relief for Gaza

Pres. Joe Biden delivers remarks after the Senate's passing of an aid package for American allies. Screen capture

WASHINGTON (BP) – President Joe Biden signed a $95 billion foreign aid package April 24 that drew bipartisan support for Israel, Ukraine and other allies, and pledged to begin sending weapons and military equipment to Ukraine within hours.

“It’s going to make America safer; it’s going to make the world safer, and it continues America’s leadership in the world,” Biden said after signing the bill that gives Ukraine $60.8 billion, Israel $26.4 billion and the Indo-Pacific region $8.1 billion. A portion of Israel’s allocation, $9 billion, will provide humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Brent Leatherwood, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, welcomed the foreign aid package secured with bipartisan support encouraged by House Speaker Mike Johnson. Southern Baptist leaders had been urging Johnson to push the measure through.

“Our nation has long supported those combating oppression and terrorism, and the horrors we have seen across the globe demand a response,” Leatherwood told Baptist Press. “Whether responding to an active war in Europe, a terrorist event in Israel, or the threat of an invasion by China, American engagement is essential for protecting vulnerable lives, churches and communities threatened by tyrants. This nation still has the capacity to do tremendous good, and it did so this week.”

Leatherwood is among several evangelicals who have commended Johnson for his about-face in moving the aid package forward, despite blocking its progress months earlier as Republicans focused on border security and other national concerns. Ultimately, Johnson promoted the aid as crucial to helping U.S. allies in pushing back communists and terrorists who threaten national and international security.

“This week a fellow Southern Baptist, House Speaker Mike Johnson, helped ensure America will not stand idly by and let the illegal and unjust invasion directed by Vladimir Putin go unchallenged,” Leatherwood said. “I am confident our Baptist brothers and sisters in Ukraine, and their fellow Ukrainians, are deeply appreciative of his leadership and the bipartisan resolve shown in Washington that has met the challenge of this moment.

“For the last two years in Ukraine, Russian bombs have obliterated hundreds of Baptist churches, religious liberty has been extinguished in areas under Russian control and countless innocent lives have been lost at the hands of Russian invaders,” Leatherwood said. “These atrocities deserve our strongest condemnation, and thankfully, Southern Baptists have been at the forefront of calling attention to them.”

Johnson risked the support of a handful of Republican congress members opposed to foreign aid who called for his ouster, but most Republicans supported the measures.

The Senate passed the four-bill package April 23 after the House’s approval late last week, but Congress struggled for months to find a bipartisan solution to support allies in the military crises that Southern Baptists have said threaten religious freedom and democracy beyond Europe and the Middle East.

Ukraine’s allotment includes $13.8 billion for weapons, $9 billion worth of economic assistance as forgivable loans, and other monies to replenish U.S. weapons stockpiles.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the U.S. for the aid in a post on X.

“I am grateful to President Biden, Congress, and all Americans who recognize that we must cut the ground under Putin’s feet rather than obeying him, as this is the only way to truly reduce threats to freedom,” Zelensky wrote April 24. “Together, we can ensure this. “Regardless of what anyone says, we are gaining the support we need to continue protecting lives from Russian attacks.”

Israel’s allocation includes $4 billion for the Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems in the Israel-Hamas War. Israel, the only U.S. ally in the Middle East, launched war against Hamas after the terrorist group killed 1,200 civilians in an unprecedented attack on Israel Oct. 7, and is also pushing back attacks from Iran and Hezbollah.

The allocation to the Indo-Pacific region would help U.S. allies in combatting Chinese aggression, including $3.3 billion for submarine infrastructure and development, and $1.9 billion to replenish U.S. weapons provided to Taiwan and other regional allies.

China’s religious persecution includes beating and imprisoning religious leaders and others on fabricated charges, attempting to ban entire religious groups, and limiting public preaching, proselytizing, conversions, religious literature and broadcasting.

China has relentlessly persecuted Christians in its war on Ukraine, banning religious groups, shuttering houses of worship, and abducting, detaining, imprisoning and torturing religious leaders.

Included in the package is a ban on TikTok in U.S. app stores unless the platform’s Chinese owners divest of their shares within a year. China’s strong communist arm jeopardizes the personal data of some 170 million Americans who use the platform, including teenagers and business owners.