Senator Murray Chairs Hearing on National Security Supplemental Request: We Must Address These Urgent Challenges in One Package
Senator Murray: “America must stand strong by our allies, dictators cannot be allowed to invade sovereign democracies, terrorism cannot be tolerated, and we cannot ignore the humanity, and the cries for help, from civilians caught in the middle of conflict and crossfire who we must protect.”
Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, gaveled in a hearing with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on the President’s national security supplemental funding request.
In her opening remarks, Senator Murray underscored why it’s essential Congress deliver aid to Ukraine and Israel, provide vital humanitarian assistance, and invest in strengthening our presence and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific. She spoke about the stakes involved, why meeting these needs is important to America’s long-term security, and reiterated that she is working to put together a bipartisan package that addresses these priorities now.
“If we are going to get this right, we have to understand how these conflicts are developing today and what our strategy is for the future,” said Senator Murray. “We have to see the big-picture without losing sight of the human reality on the ground—the fact that in the middle of every conflict, are civilians—residents displaced from their homes, hostages torn from their families, people facing obstacles getting basic medical services, and kids and families who desperately need food and water.”
“That means: America must stand strong by our allies, dictators cannot be allowed to invade sovereign democracies, terrorism cannot be tolerated, and we cannot ignore the humanity—and the cries for help—from civilians caught in the middle of conflict and crossfire who we must protect,” continued Senator Murray. “It’s a tall order—but the Biden Administration’s national security supplemental request offers a useful blueprint, and Vice Chair Collins and I are working right now to craft strong, bipartisan legislation that meets the national security priorities the President laid out.”
Senator Murray emphasized how these priorities are fundamentally intertwined—and why it’s absolutely critical for the Senate to address them together.
“Make no mistake: we need to address all of these priorities as part of one package—because the reality is these issues are all connected, and they are all urgent,” Senator Murray said in her opening remarks. “The Chinese government is watching how we respond to Putin’s aggression in Ukraine. Putin is hoping the Hamas attack will give him an opening and distract the world from aiding Ukraine against his brutal invasion, and all of our adversaries are watching closely to see whether we have the vision to recognize how these crises are related, and the resolve to come together and respond forcefully to them. Our adversaries are cheering for dysfunction. So let’s instead show them unity.”
Senator Murray began her questioning by inviting Secretaries Blinken and Austin to make plain the importance of delivering humanitarian assistance, continuing aid to Ukraine, and investing in the Indo-Pacific in addition to aid for Israel in the wake of Hamas’ attacks.
In response, Secretary Blinken stated: “To put it succinctly, for our adversaries—be they states or non-states—this is all one fight. And we have to respond in a way that recognizes that. If we start to peel off pieces of this package, they’ll see that, they’ll understand that we are playing whack-a-mole while they cooperate increasingly and pose an ever-greater threat to our security as well as to that of our allies and partners.”
Secretary Austin replied: “I think it’s important to remind ourselves that what happens in Ukraine, and what happens in Israel matters not to just Ukraine and Israel, it matters to us. It affects our national security, as well. …. In Ukraine, Putin has felt that he could wait us out. And that’s part of his strategy, the main part of his strategy. He feels that the West will get tired of supporting Ukraine, and he’ll soon have his way. If that’s the case, if we don’t support Ukraine then Putin wins, but Putin will not stop in Ukraine.”
Senator Murray also asked Secretary Blinken about how the U.S. will ensure humanitarian assistance reaches civilians who desperately need it in Gaza—and not allow that assistance to fall into Hamas’ hands. In response, Secretary Blinken made clear that the need for humanitarian aid is urgent and desperate, and outlined the system whereby humanitarian assistance to Gaza is carefully checked and tracked, to ensure that it is being delivered to civilians who need it.
“First, let’s be clear that the needs are desperate. The needs for the most basic things–food, water, medicine, fuel. All of these are literally a matter of life and death, just to focus in on Gaza,” Secretary Blinken said. “Men, women, and children displaced–well over a million people displaced in Gaza, about half of them in the care of UNRWA right now, desperately need the most basic things in order to survive. So, from day one, we have been working with the Israeli government, with Egypt, with the UN agencies, as well as with other actors, to try to make sure that assistance could get in to people who need it in Gaza—to get it in a way that doesn’t go to the people who don’t need it, and that’s Hamas…. To date, we don’t have reports—either from the UN or from Israel—that this assistance has been diverted from its intended recipients, but it’s something that we’re going to track very closely.”
Finally, at Tuesday’s hearing, Senator Murray reiterated that she is continuing to talk with her colleagues about many of the other supplemental funding priorities the President requested to meet challenges facing families and communities back at home.
“Let me just say: while we are focused on global challenges at this hearing, we should also address needs here at home, like the child care crisis, relief for communities struck by disaster, the fentanyl crisis, the needs at our southern border, and more,” said Senator Murray in her opening remarks. “Bottom line: we face a number of urgent national security issues and challenges here at home. … And if we can pass our domestic priorities right alongside our national security priorities, we absolutely should. After all, we are the United States of America—we can stand with our allies around the world and tackle the challenges facing our families here at home at the same time.”
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