Republicans are ripping President Joe Biden for attempting to tie U.S. disaster relief to Ukraine funding, asserting that the president is holding Americans “hostage.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is leading the charge, urging Congress to separate disaster relief in the U.S. from billions more in aid to Ukraine.
Biden this week was originally expected to request more aid for Ukraine, with a figure “north of $10 billion.” Indeed, according to the Associated Press (AP), Biden requested over $13 billion in “emergency defense aid to Ukraine and an additional $8 billion for humanitarian support through the end of the year.”
The $40-billion aid package includes $12 billion for disaster relief in the U.S. as well, triggering concerns among Republicans and prompting Rubio, who tends to support aid to Ukraine with more oversight, to take action.
“President Biden is holding Floridians and other Americans hostage by tying critical domestic disaster relief to foreign military aid,” Rubio stated on Thursday.
“While the Biden administration works with my colleagues in the House on what can actually pass, I urge prompt consideration of legislation to replenish the Disaster Relief Fund,” the Florida senator added, prompting agreement from fellow Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH).
“Marco and I don’t always agree on Ukraine policy, but he is absolutely right about this. We have just had horrible fires in Maui. Biden still hasn’t declared a disaster in East Palestine, and hurricane season is just around the corner,” Vance said.
“Do disaster aid, then we can debate Ukraine,” Vance added.
Marco and I don't always agree on Ukraine policy, but he is absolutely right about this. We have just had horrible fires in Maui. Biden still hasn't declared a disaster in East Palestine and hurricane season is just around the corner. Do disaster aid, then we can debate Ukraine. https://t.co/82gpnjqBNn
— J.D. Vance (@JDVance1) August 11, 2023
Despite Rubio’s general support of aiding Ukraine, he is among those calling for far more oversight, halting the status of writing a “blank check.”
Biden’s desire to tie U.S. disaster relief to Ukraine aid comes as the people of East Palestine, Ohio, continue to seek assistance and beg for help months after the toxic train derailment. The Biden administration, however, has largely ignored them.
“Man, are they suffering. That’s another place in the United States that’s been forgotten about, just like the border, the people down there,” John Rourke, the head of Blue Line Moving who delivered pallets of water from former President Donald Trump to East Palestine residents, told Breitbart News during a July interview at the Turning Point Action Conference.
“We have American citizens, some of them veterans, who can’t even get a decent roof over their head until they figure out what the hell is going on in this town, alright; I was there. I could smell it in the air. I could feel it on my skin. I actually spoke with people. ‘How are you doing?’ And they’re miserable. They don’t understand why Joe Biden has not come down there and help them,” Rourke said, highlighting that it was Trump — not Biden — who showed up.
“But guess who had to come? President Trump, right? He’s the one that came. How bad is that?” Rourke asked, adding that he is still getting calls from residents asking him to send a message to Trump.
“These poor people just need water. I’m getting calls from people; even as last week, someone reached out to me and said, ‘We’re running out of water. Could you get a message to President Trump? He said he would come back if the government didn’t act. Could you please get a message to him and tell him we need more water? We need help,’” he said.
“They still need help. I’m telling you, they’re reaching out to us on social media, saying, ‘Is there any way you can get a message to anyone to come help us?’ It’s just a forgotten land, just like the border, just like all of these inner cities that are deteriorating and rotting from inside,” Rourke added.
Biden’s attempt to tie U.S. disaster relief to Ukraine aid also comes as Hawaii experiences what Hawaii Gov. Josh Green (D) has described as “likely the largest natural disaster in Hawaii’s state history” after wildfires engulfed the islands, killing at least 53, with the death toll rising. Notably, Biden approved the state’s disaster declaration request Thursday.