US President Joe Biden reacts as he delivers remarks at the White House in Washington, February 8, 2024.

White House Tells GOP Not To Help Iran By Blocking Ukraine Aid

Wednesday, 02/14/2024

The Biden administration is pressuring the House of Representatives to approve more funding for Ukraine, saying a failure to do so would amount to helping Russia and Iran.

“A House vote against American national security is a vote to appease and empower the Iranian regime. Period,” reads a White House memo aimed at Republican representatives and seen by several journalists. 

The memo, written by senior Biden adviser Andrew Bates, argues that since Iran is helping Russia against Ukraine (and Hamas against Israel), not passing the legislation would strengthen Iran’s position.

“Iran is integral to Putin’s war effort in Ukraine,” reads the memo, “providing him with weapons and financial support. Right now, Russians are killing Ukrainian civilians with Iranian drones. Iran is even considering supplying Russia with short-range ballistic missiles.”

The intervention is remarkable with respect to Biden’s Iran policy. For almost three years, House Republicans have been pushing Biden to adopt a tougher stance on Iran, warning him about the dangers of an ascendant Islamic Republic. Now the table seems to have turned, and it’s Biden stressing the perils of not taking the threat seriously.

Drones are seen at a site at an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on April 20, 2023.

Iran has provided hundreds of kamikaze drones to Russia that have been used against civilian targets and infrastructure, forcing Ukraine to use expensive Western air defense weapons against the cheap Iranian drones. There have been reports that Tehran might have also supplied ammunition and even possibly missiles.

The bill asks for $60 billion for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel (as well as $5 billion for US allies in the Far East and $9 billion for humanitarian aid). It passed the Senate Monday but faces an uphill battle in the House, where speaker Mike Johnson has called it “dead” before hitting the House floor.

The Biden administration and the Democrats in the Congress have accused Johnson and other opponents of the bill of kowtowing to Donald Trump, who has expressed his opposition to the bill and called on the Republican lawmakers to reject it.

Trump critics say he’s opposing the bill because it includes a bipartisan deal to address the US ‘border crisis’, which may rid him of a potent weapon against the Democrats in the 2024 election campaign.

The memo includes an indirect but clear reference to Trump, who raised many eyebrows last week when he suggested that the US should exit NATO, and Russia should attack members of the alliance. Reminding the Representatives of their “stark” choice, the memo reads: “unhinged, irresponsible voices on the right are even encouraging Russia to attack our closest allies and agitating to unravel NATO.”

Speaker Mike Johnson has cited border control as his main source of opposition to the bill and its selection for vote in the House. “National security starts with border security,” he said Tuesday, responding to the administration’s claim that the failure to provide help to Ukraine would affect national security.

Earlier Tuesday, Biden had called on the House to pass the bill on that very ground.

“If we do not stand against tyrants who seek to conquer or carve up their neighbors’ territory, the consequences for America’s national security will be significant,” Biden said in a statement. “It is time for the House to take action and send this bipartisan legislation to my desk immediately so that I can sign it into law.”

Analysts say such interventions prove that the Biden administration is far from confident in the bill’s chances.

“Will House Republicans side with President Biden and Senators on both sides of the aisle in supporting American national security? Or will House Republicans, in the name of politics, side with Vladimir Putin and the regime in Tehran?” the memo reads. “The House GOP cannot lose sight of this binary choice.”

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