Biden willing to ‘compromise’ on US border policy as Senate Republicans block Ukraine aid

As Senate Republicans blocked the advance of tens of billions of dollars in military and economic assistance for Ukraine Wednesday, President Joe Biden berated their tactics as “stunning” and dangerous. Yet he also signaled an openness to what GOP lawmakers ultimately want: border policy changes.

Biden at the White House warned of dire consequences for Kyiv – and a “gift” to Russia’s Vladimir Putin – if Congress fails to pass a $110 billion package of wartime funding for Ukraine and Israel as well as other national security priorities. Hours later, Senate Republicans defiantly voted to stop the package from advancing, something that they had threatened to do all week.

“They’re willing to literally kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield and damage our national security in the process,” Biden said.

But even as he lashed Republicans for their stance, Biden stressed that he is willing to “make significant compromises on the border,” if that’s what it takes to get the package through Congress. 

That statement has raised at least some hope that progress can be made in the days ahead as the Senate grinds through negotiations on border security, one of the most fraught issues in American politics. Biden’s remarks Wednesday were his clearest overture yet to Republicans and came at a critical time, with a path through Congress for the emergency funds rapidly disappearing and America’s support for multiple allies in doubt.

“If we don’t support Ukraine, what is the rest of the world going to do?” Biden added.

The president’s statement came hours after he huddled virtually with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and leaders of the Group of Seven advanced democracies, which have staunchly supported Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.

“We need to fix the broken border system. It is broken,” Biden said, adding that he’s ”ready to change policy as well.” He did not name specific policy proposals and accused Republicans of wanting a political issue more than bipartisan compromise.

Sen. James Lankford, the Oklahoma Republican who has been leading Senate negotiations over border policy, was encouraged by what he heard, saying it seemed like the president is “ready to be able to sit down and talk.”

Senators of both parties acknowledged they will need to move quickly if a deal is to be struck. Congress is scheduled to be in Washington for just a handful more days before the end of the year. The White House, meanwhile, has sounded the alarm about what would happen if they don’t approve more funding soon, saying Ukraine’s military would be stalled, or even overrun. 

“When deadlines come, everybody’s undivided attention is there and we realize: ’OK. Now it’s time to actually solve this,’” Lankford said.

Democrats involved in the negotiations also said a direct hand from the president, as well as from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, could be helpful.

“This kind of thorny, difficult problem is exactly what Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell have worked on before. And we could use their help and their leadership on this,” said Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., another negotiator. 

So far, McConnell, while an ardent supporter of Ukraine aid, has sided with Republicans who are holding firm against the security package unless it includes changes to America’s border policies. Every Republican voted against it advancing Wednesday evening.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the failed test vote a “a sad night in the history of the Senate and our country.” He urged Republicans to present a border proposal that is “serious, instead of the extreme policies they have presented thus far.”

Republican negotiators were expected to send a new proposal to Democrats after the failed vote. 

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who has been involved in the negotiations, said the Republicans’ hard-charging bargain left little room for agreement and he remained skeptical that a deal can be struck.

“They have to figure out whether they want to negotiate or whether they want to make take-it-or-leave-it demands,” Murphy said.

Republicans argue the record numbers of migrants crossing the southern border pose a security threat because border authorities cannot adequately screen them. They also say they cannot justify to their constituents sending billions of dollars to other countries while failing to address the border at home.

So far, senators have found agreement on raising the initial standard for migrants to enter the asylum system. But they’ve been at odds over placing limitations on humanitarian parole, a program that allows the executive branch to temporarily admit migrants without action from Congress. 

But Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said the Senate talks were “never going to be able to negotiate the kind of meaningful substantive policy changes” that Republicans want. He called Biden’s remarks “positive” and said the negotiations should next include the president, McConnell and House Speaker Mike Johnson.

The president’s willingness to directly engage on the issue comes at a political risk. Immigrant advocates and some Democratic senators have sounded alarm about curtailing the asylum system. 

Sen. Alex Padilla, a California Democrat who led a statement with 10 other senators last month calling for an increase in legal immigration to be included in negotiations, said he would be watching closely what Biden agrees to on border security.

“Devil’s in the details,” Padilla said, adding that the direction of the Senate talks have been “concerning from day one.”

Even if the president and senators somehow find a way forward on border security, any agreement would face significant obstacles in the House. Hardline conservatives who control the chamber have vowed to block it unless it tacks to a broad set of forceful border and immigration policies.

Johnson, who as speaker has already expressed deep skepticism of funding for Ukraine, has signaled he won’t support the aid package if it does not adhere to H.R. 2, a bill that would remake the U.S. immigration system with conservative priorities. 

“The American people deserve nothing less.” Johnson said in a statement.


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Will Israel repeat its military tactics in southern Gaza?

Israel resumed its military operation in the Gaza Strip on Friday with heavy bombardments. As strikes continue, the United States is pressuring the Israeli military to exercise restraint, particularly in the south, where nearly 2 million Palestinians are now concentrated. Will it work? 

After the seven-day truce ended on Friday morning, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) resumed their campaign in Gaza with a scale and intensity reminiscent of the first wave of their response to Hamas‘s October 7 attack. Operations are now focused on the southern part of Gaza where hundreds of thousands fled following IDF bombardments in Gaza City and the north of the Strip. 

The US has urged Israel not to repeat the military tactics used during the first weeks of the war. Officials fear missile strikes followed by a ground offensive – the strategy used in the north – will result in too many Palestinian deaths and threaten a wider regional conflict.  

To prevent this outcome, senior Biden administration officials are urging Israel to change its approach. In Tel Aviv on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that any such offensive must put “a premium on protecting civilians and making sure that humanitarian assistance gets to those who need it”.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CBS’s Face the Nation that the US has been talking “at length” with Israel to ensure that any “continuing military operations should learn lessons from the north (of the Gaza Strip).”

President Joe Biden himself reportedly told Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “that the way Israel operated in northern Gaza, which included a wide assault and three armoured and infantry divisions, can’t be repeated in the southern part of the enclave because of the millions of Palestinians who are there now”, according to Axios, citing anonymous officials in the US administration.

“[The US] is saying that more attention should be paid to potential civilian casualties in the military operation,” says Omri Brinner, a Middle East geopolitics specialist at the International Team for the Study of Security Verona (ITSS), an international collective of experts on international security issues.

Since the start of Israel’s campaign, hundreds of thousands of Gazans have fled the northern part of the enclave to seek refuge in the south, where nearly 2 million people now reside. The United States does not want to see the count of Palestinian civilian casualties soar. (Editor’s note: the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, which does not distinguish between civilian and military casualties, says more than 15,200 people have died since the war began.)

Despite US efforts, Israeli rhetoric has not yet moderated. “When we return to fighting, we will apply the same force and more, and we will fight across the whole of the Strip,” said Israeli Minister of Defence Yoav Gallant before the hostilities resumed.

Israel’s actions also appear to contradict American demands. On Friday, Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets in parts of Khan Yunis, the main southern city where Israel believes Hamas’s leadership is based. “The city of Khan Yunis is a dangerous combat zone,” the leaflets read. 

However, says Brinner, these calls for civilians to leave future combat areas can only have a limited effect. First, the southern Gaza Strip is already too small for the 2 million Palestinians who have found refuge there. “They certainly cannot all take refuge in an even narrower area.” 

Second, Hamas fighters “have perfected the art of blending in with the civilian population and using it as a shield against Israeli soldiers”, says Amnon Aran, a professor of international politics of the Middle East at the City University of London.

“They (Hamas) will do everything to deter [civilians] from leaving,” says Brinner.

American demands incompatible with Israeli objectives

“We now realise that Israel made a major tactical mistake by choosing to advance slowly and steadily from the north to the south, rather than attacking simultaneously in the north, centre, and south of the Gaza Strip,” says Ahron Bregman, a political scientist and specialist in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at King’s College London. By doing so, the army “contributed to strengthening the human shield formed by the civilian population around Hamas in the south, where the army now wishes to inflict the most damage”.

In addition to this already complicated humanitarian context, “the main Hamas fighting forces are in the south”, says Aran. “Out of the 14 battalions engaged in the war against Israel, 10 are based in this region of the enclave.” 

Israel sees the US demands as making its goals more complicated. Especially given the specificity of some of the demands. Washington has called for the creation of “de-escalation zones” (specific buildings such as UN facilities, hospitals, or schools) where Israeli soldiers cannot open fire to ensure the safety of the civilian populations inside.

“Hamas is known for using buildings such as hospitals or schools to shelter weapons and fighters. I don’t see how this American demand would be compatible with Israel’s stated military objectives,” says Veronika Poniscjakova, a specialist in the military aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the University of Portsmouth in the UK.  

“If the intelligence establishes beyond doubt that Hamas militants are hiding in certain buildings, the Americans should not prevent Israeli strikes,” says Brinner. 

According to the Washington Post, the United States has also called on Israel to “use smaller and more precise munitions” – in other words, to refrain from dropping large explosive charges, as was the case in the north.

Is Israeli victory impossible?

The goal of minimising civilian casualties – commendable in and of itself – is also a way of preventing serious geopolitical repercussions, says Aran. “The population density will be such that the possibilities of a miscalculation during a bombing are multiplied. This also increases the risk of a major incident that could ignite the region, forcing the United States to intervene militarily.” 

However, the Israeli government may be reluctant to exercise restraint in its aerial campaign. Some parts of the Israeli public would perceive it as “putting the safety of Palestinian civilians above that of Israeli soldiers [who need air support to ensure the safety of their advance],” says Brinner. This is not the kind of message Netanyahu wants to convey.

Israel is walking a fine line. If Washington turns on Israel, Israel risks losing its main support in the UN Security Council and losing its largest weapons supplier. 

In the build-up to the US presidential elections, Israeli leaders will have to be mindful of the repercussions of what is happening in Gaza on the American campaign, says Aran. Biden may be much less patient with Netanyahu if the Israeli military makes him appear complicit in what some of the US electorate perceive as atrocities against Palestinian civilians.

In this context, it is difficult to imagine that Israel will achieve its stated military goal in the Gaza Strip, namely the eradication of Hamas and its military capabilities, says Bregman. “The Israeli military can diminish [their] military capabilities, destroy some weapon-manufacturing facilities and tunnels, but certainly not wipe Hamas off the map permanently.”

“At some point, Netanyahu will surely say that Israel has won, but it will be a meaningless statement … Hamas has already won a victory once on October 7 by striking Israel, and a second time by securing the release of prisoners, earning them some admiration from all Palestinians,” he adds.

This article has been adapted from the original in French.

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Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger dies at 100

Kissinger exerted uncommon influence on global affairs under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, earning both vilification and the Nobel Peace Prize.


Henry Kissinger, the diplomat with thick glasses and gravelly voice who dominated foreign policy as the United States pulled out of Vietnam and broke down barriers with China, died on Wednesday, his consulting firm said. 

He was 100.

Tributes from around the world have poured in. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the world had lost a “great diplomat”, while Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed Kissinger as a “wise and visionary statesman”.

With his gruff yet commanding presence and behind-the-scenes manipulation of power, Kissinger exerted uncommon influence on global affairs under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, earning both vilification and the Nobel Peace Prize. 

Decades later, his name still provoked impassioned debate over foreign policy landmarks long past.

Kissinger’s power grew during the turmoil of Watergate when the politically attuned diplomat assumed a role akin to co-president to the weakened Nixon.

“No doubt my vanity was piqued,” Kissinger later wrote of his expanding influence. “But the dominant emotion was a premonition of catastrophe.”

A Jew who fled Nazi Germany with his family in his teens, Kissinger in his later years cultivated the reputation of a respected statesman, giving speeches, offering advice to Republicans and Democrats alike and managing a global consulting business. He turned up in President Donald Trump’s White House on multiple occasions. 

But Nixon-era documents and tapes, as they trickled out over the years, brought revelations — many in Kissinger’s own words — that sometimes cast him in a harsh light.

‘Shuttle diplomacy’

Never without his detractors, Kissinger after he left government was dogged by critics who argued that he should be called to account for his policies on Southeast Asia and support of repressive regimes in Latin America.

For eight restless years — first as national security adviser, later as secretary of state, and for a time in the middle holding both titles — Kissinger ranged across the breadth of major foreign policy issues. He conducted the first “shuttle diplomacy” in the quest for Middle East peace. He used secret channels to pursue ties between the United States and China, ending decades of isolation and mutual hostility.

He initiated the Paris negotiations that ultimately provided a face-saving means — a “decent interval,” he called it — to get the United States out of a costly war in Vietnam. Two years later, Saigon fell to the communists.

And he pursued a policy of detente with the Soviet Union that led to arms control agreements and raised the possibility that the tensions of the Cold War and its nuclear threat did not have to last forever.

At age 99, he was still out on tour for his book on leadership. Asked in a July 2022 interview with ABC whether he wished he could take back any of his decisions, Kissinger demurred, saying: “I’ve been thinking about these problems all my life. It’s my hobby as well as my occupation. And so the recommendations I made were the best of which I was then capable.”

Even then, he had mixed thoughts on Nixon’s record, saying “his foreign policy has held up and he was quite effective in domestic policy” while allowing that the disgraced president had “permitted himself to be involved in a number of steps that were inappropriate for a president.”

As Kissinger turned 100 in May 2023, his son David wrote in The Washington Post that his father’s centenary “might have an air of inevitability for anyone familiar with his force of character and love of historical symbolism. Not only has he outlived most of his peers, eminent detractors and students, but he has also remained indefatigably active throughout his 90s.”

Asked during a CBS interview in the leadup to his 100th birthday about those who view his conduct of foreign policy over the years as a kind of “criminality,” Kissinger was nothing but dismissive.

“That’s a reflection of their ignorance,” Kissinger said. “It wasn’t conceived that way. It wasn’t conducted that way.”


Kissinger continued his involvement in global affairs even in his last months. He met Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing in July, as bilateral relations were at a low point. And 50 years after his shuttle diplomacy helped end the 1973 Mideast war, when Israel fended off a surprise attack from Egypt and Syria, Kissinger warned of the risks of that conflict repeating itself after Israel faced a surprise assault by Hamas on October 7.

Tributes for Kissinger from prominent US officials poured in immediately upon word of his death. Former President George W. Bush said the US “lost one of the most dependable and distinctive voices on foreign affairs” and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Kissinger was “endlessly generous with the wisdom gained over the course of an extraordinary life.”

Kissinger’s consulting firm said he died at his home in Connecticut.


Kissinger was a practitioner of realpolitik — using diplomacy to achieve practical objectives rather than advance lofty ideals. Supporters said his pragmatic bent served US interests; critics saw a Machiavellian approach that ran counter to democratic ideals.

He was castigated for authorizing telephone wiretaps of reporters and his own National Security Council staff to plug news leaks in Nixon’s White House. He was denounced on college campuses for the bombing and allied invasion of Cambodia in April 1970, intended to destroy North Vietnamese supply lines to communist forces in South Vietnam.


That “incursion,” as Nixon and Kissinger called it, was blamed by some for contributing to Cambodia’s fall into the hands of Khmer Rouge insurgents who later slaughtered some 2 million Cambodians.

Kissinger, for his part, made it his mission to debunk what he referred to in 2007 as a “prevalent myth” — that he and Nixon had settled in 1972 for peace terms that had been available in 1969 and thus had needlessly prolonged the Vietnam War at the cost of tens of thousands of American lives.

He insisted that the only way to speed up the withdrawal would have been to agree to Hanoi’s demands that the US overthrow the South Vietnamese government and replace it with communist-dominated leadership.


Pudgy and messy, Kissinger incongruously acquired a reputation as a ladies’ man in the staid Nixon administration. Kissinger, who had divorced his first wife in 1964, called women “a diversion, a hobby.” Jill St. John was a frequent companion. But it turned out his real love interest was Nancy Maginnes, a researcher for Nelson Rockefeller whom he married in 1974.

In a 1972 poll of Playboy Club Bunnies, the man dubbed “Super-K” by Newsweek finished first as “the man I would most like to go out on a date with.”


Kissinger’s explanation: “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”

Yet Kissinger was reviled by many Americans for his conduct of wartime diplomacy. He was still a lightning rod decades later: In 2015, an appearance by the 91-year-old Kissinger before the Senate Armed Services Committee was disrupted by protesters demanding his arrest for war crimes and calling out his actions in Southeast Asia, Chile and beyond.

Heinz Alfred Kissinger was born in the Bavarian city of Fuerth on May 27, 1923, the son of a schoolteacher. His family left Nazi Germany in 1938 and settled in Manhattan, where Heinz changed his name to Henry.

Kissinger had two children, Elizabeth and David, from his first marriage.

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Former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger dies at 100

Henry Kissinger, a controversial Nobel Peace Prize winner and diplomatic powerhouse whose service under two presidents left an indelible mark on US foreign policy, died on Wednesday at age 100, Kissinger Associates Inc said in a statement. He died at his home in Connecticut.

Kissinger had been active past his centenary, attending meetings in the White House, publishing a book on leadership styles, and testifying before a Senate committee about the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. In July 2023 he made a surprise visit to Beijing to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In the 1970s, he had a hand in many of the epoch-changing global events of the decade while serving as secretary of state under Republican President Richard Nixon. The German-born Jewish refugee’s efforts led to the diplomatic opening of China, landmark US-Soviet arms control talks, expanded ties between Israel and its Arab neighbours, and the Paris Peace Accords with North Vietnam.

Kissinger’s reign as the prime architect of US foreign policy waned with Nixon’s resignation in 1974. Still, he continued to be a diplomatic force under President Gerald Ford and to offer strong opinions throughout the rest of his life.

While many hailed Kissinger for his brilliance and broad experience, others branded him a war criminal for his support for anti-communist dictatorships, especially in Latin America. In his latter years, his travels were circumscribed by efforts by other nations to arrest or question him about past US foreign policy.

His 1973 Peace Prize – awarded jointly to North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho, who would decline it – was one of the most controversial ever. Two members of the Nobel committee resigned over the selection and questions arose about the US secret bombing of Cambodia.

Ford called Kissinger a “super secretary of state” but also noted his prickliness and self assurance, which critics were more likely to call paranoia and egotism. Even Ford said, “Henry in his mind never made a mistake.”

“He had the thinnest skin of any public figure I ever knew,” Ford said in an interview shortly before his death in 2006.

With his dour expression and gravelly, German-accented voice, Kissinger was hardly a rock star but had an image as a ladies’ man, squiring starlets around Washington and New York in his bachelor days. Power, he said, was the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Voluble on policy, Kissinger was reticent on personal matters, although he once told a journalist he saw himself as a cowboy hero, riding off alone.

Harvard faculty

Heinz Alfred Kissinger was born in Furth, Germany, on May 27, 1923, and moved to the United States with his family in 1938 before the Nazi campaign to exterminate European Jews.

Anglicising his name to Henry, Kissinger became a naturalised US citizen in 1943, served in the Army in Europe in World War Two, and went to Harvard University on scholarship, earning a master’s degree in 1952 and a doctorate in 1954. He was on Harvard’s faculty for the next 17 years.

During much of that time, Kissinger served as a consultant to government agencies, including in 1967 when he acted as an intermediary for the State Department in Vietnam. He used his connections with President Lyndon Johnson’s administration to pass on information about peace negotiations to the Nixon camp.

When Nixon’s pledge to end the Vietnam War won him the 1968 presidential election, he brought Kissinger to the White House as national security adviser.

But the process of “Vietnamization” – shifting the burden of the war from the half-million US forces to the South Vietnamese – was long and bloody, punctuated by massive US bombing of North Vietnam, the mining of the North’s harbors, and the bombing of Cambodia.

Kissinger declared in 1972 that “peace is at hand” in Vietnam but the Paris Peace Accords reached in January 1973 were little more than a prelude to the final Communist takeover of the South two years later.

In 1973, in addition to his role as national security adviser, Kissinger was named secretary of state – giving him unchallenged authority in foreign affairs.

An intensifying Arab-Israeli conflict launched Kissinger on his first so-called “shuttle” mission, a brand of highly personal, high-pressure diplomacy for which he became famous.

Thirty-two days spent shuttling between Jerusalem and Damascus helped Kissinger forge a long-lasting disengagement agreement between Israel and Syria in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

In an effort to diminish Soviet influence, Kissinger reached out to its chief communist rival, China, and made two trips there, including a secret one to meet with Premier Zhou Enlai. The result was Nixon’s historic summit in Beijing with Chairman Mao Zedong and the eventual formalisation of relations between the two countries.

Strategic arms accord 

The Watergate scandal that forced Nixon to resign barely grazed Kissinger, who was not connected to the cover-up and continued as secretary of state when Ford took office in the summer of 1974. But Ford did replace him as national security adviser in an effort to hear more voices on foreign policy.

Later that year Kissinger went with Ford to Vladivostok in the Soviet Union, where the president met Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and agreed to a basic framework for a strategic arms pact. The agreement capped Kissinger’s pioneering efforts at detente that led to a relaxing of US-Soviet tensions.

But Kissinger’s diplomatic skills had their limits. In 1975, he was faulted for failing to persuade Israel and Egypt to agree to a second-stage disengagement in the Sinai.

And in the India-Pakistan War of 1971, Nixon and Kissinger were heavily criticized for tilting toward Pakistan. Kissinger was heard calling the Indians “bastards” – a remark he later said he regretted.

Like Nixon, he feared the spread of left-wing ideas in the Western hemisphere, and his actions in response were to cause deep suspicion of Washington from many Latin Americans for years to come.

In 1970 he plotted with the CIA on how best to destabilize and overthrow the Marxist but democratically elected Chilean President Salvador Allende, while he said in a memo in the wake of Argentina’s bloody coup in 1976 that the military dictators should be encouraged.

When Ford lost to Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, in 1976, Kissinger’s days in the suites of government power were largely over. The next Republican in the White House, Ronald Reagan, distanced himself from Kissinger, who he viewed as out of step with his conservative constituency.

After leaving government, Kissinger set up a high-priced, high-powered consulting firm in New York, which offered advice to the world’s corporate elite. He served on company boards and various foreign policy and security forums, wrote books, and became a regular media commentator on international affairs.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, President George W. Bush picked Kissinger to head an investigative committee. But outcry from Democrats who saw a conflict of interest with many of his consulting firm’s clients forced Kissinger to step down from the post.

Divorced from his first wife, Ann Fleischer, in 1964, he married Nancy Maginnes, an aide to New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, in 1974. He had two children by his first wife.


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Rosalynn Carter, former US first lady and mental health activist, dies at 96

Former US first lady Rosalynn Carter, who President Jimmy Carter called “an extension of myself” owing to his wife’s prominent role in his administration even as she tirelessly promoted the cause of mental health, died on Sunday at age 96, the Carter Center said.

Rosalynn Carter, who in recent days had entered hospice care at home in Plains, Georgia, died with her family by her side, according to a statement released by the Carter Center, a nonprofit organization founded by the couple.

Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, served as president from 1977 to 1981. He and his wife were the longest-married US presidential couple, having wed in 1946 when he was 21 and she was 18.

After his single term as president ended, he also enjoyed more post-White House years than any president before him, and she played an instrumental role during those years, including as part of the Carter Center and the Habitat for Humanity charity.

Her family in May disclosed that she had dementia but was continuing to live at home. Jimmy Carter, 99, himself is in hospice care after deciding in February to decline additional medical intervention. 

“Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,” the former president said in the statement. “She gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it. As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me.”

She was seen as unassuming and quiet before coming to Washington in 1977 but developed into an eloquent speaker, campaigner and activist. Her abiding passion, which carried far beyond her White House years, was for the mentally ill, not because of any personal connection but because of a strong feeling that advocacy was needed.

“The best thing I ever did was marry Rosalynn,” Carter told the C-SPAN cable TV channel in 2015. “That’s the pinnacle of my life.”

Before her husband was elected president in 1976, Rosalynn was largely unknown outside of Georgia, where he had been a peanut farmer-turned-governor. He lost his 1980 re-election bid to Ronald Reagan, a Republican former California governor and Hollywood actor.

In Washington, the Carters were a team, with the president calling her “an extension of myself” and “my closest adviser.” She was often invited to sit in as an observer at cabinet meetings and political strategy discussions. In a 1978 interview with magazine editors, Carter said he shared almost everything with his wife except top-secret material.

“I think she understands the consciousness of the American people and their attitudes perhaps better than do I,” he said.

She also was sent on important official missions to Latin America and was part of the unsuccessful campaign for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ensure equal treatment of women under the law.

The Iranian hostage crisis – in which American diplomats and others were held captive in Tehran after the Islamic revolution – occurred when Carter was seeking re-election. The crisis contributed to the downfall of his presidency as he refrained from campaigning while trying to resolve the standoff.

During that time, Rosalynn Carter sought to support her husband by speaking in 112 cities in 34 states during a 44-day tour. Her speeches and forays into crowds were credited with helping Carter defeat Democratic challenger Ted Kennedy in the 1980 primaries, although he went on to lose overwhelmingly to Reagan.

First lady Jill Biden on Sunday paid tribute to Carter during an event in Virginia. Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, in a statement called Carter “a woman of dignity and strength.” Former President Donald Trump in a social media post called her “a great humanitarian.”

Mental health interest 

Eleanor Rosalynn Smith was born Aug. 18, 1927, in Plains to Edgar and Alice Smith, and married Carter on July 7, 1946. They went on to have four children.

Her interest in mental health issues stemmed from the early 1970s when she began to realize, while helping her husband campaign for governor, the depth of the problem in her home state of Georgia and the reluctance of people to talk about it.

As first lady of Georgia, she was a member of a governor’s commission to improve services for the mentally ill.

In the White House, she became honorary chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health, key to passage of a 1980 act that helped fund local mental health centers.

After leaving Washington she pursued her work through the Carter Center, which the Carters founded in Atlanta in 1982. She continued to advocate for mental health, early childhood immunization, human rights, conflict resolution and the empowerment of urban communities.

“I hope our legacy continues, more than just as first lady, because the Carter Center has been an integral part of our lives. And our motto is waging peace, fighting disease and building hope. And I hope that I have contributed something to mental health issues and help improve a little bit the lives of people living with mental illnesses,” she told C-SPAN in a 2013 interview.

Speaking about her 1998 book “Helping Someone With Mental Illness,” Carter said she longed for the day when the mentally ill would be free from discrimination.

In their post-Washington years the Carters were also key figures in the Habitat for Humanity charity, helping build homes for needy families. Their humanitarian efforts were crowned in 2002 when Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

“I am especially grateful to Rosalynn, who has been a part of everything I’ve done,” a teary-eyed Jimmy Carter said in a speech in Plains after learning he had won the award.

Both Carters were active members of the Plains community, including at the Maranatha Baptist Church where Rosalynn served as a deacon and the former president as a deacon and long-time Sunday school teacher.

The Carter Center said she also is survived by her four children, 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.


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Biden tells Asia-Pacific leaders US ‘not going anywhere’ as it looks to build economic ties

President Joe Biden on Thursday made America’s case to national leaders and CEOs attending the Asia-Pacific summit that the United States is committed to high standards in trade and to partnerships that will benefit economies across the Pacific.

“We’re not going anywhere,” he declared.

Fresh off his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Biden also told business leaders that the US was “de-risking and diversifying” but not “decoupling.” from Beijing.

But he did not mince words in suggesting the US and friends in the Pacific could offer businesses a better option than China.

He also noted that US economies had invested some $50 billion in fellow Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation economies in 2023, including in clean energy technologies, aviation and cybersecurity.

“This is not all kumbaya but it’s straightforward,” Biden said. “We have real differences with Beijing when it comes to maintaining a fair and level economic playing field and protecting your intellectual property. ”

Biden sought to send a clear message about American leadership as business leaders grapple with the risks of doing businesses in the midst of wars in the Middle East and Europe and a still shaky post-pandemic economy.

He was also spending time on Thursday letting Indo-Pacific leaders know that the US is committed to nurturing economic ties throughout the region.

Biden later posed for the traditional “family photo” with other leaders of APEC, the group that includes 21 economies.

Biden in his remarks to the CEOs sought to highlight his administration’s efforts to strengthen ties with the region. APEC members have invested $1.7 trillion in the US economy, supporting some 2.3 million American jobs.

US companies, in turn, have invested about $1.4 trillion in APEC economies.

Later, during talks with APEC leaders at a working lunch, Biden spoke about efforts funded by his Inflation Reduction Act to improve sustainability, climate change and clean energy infrastructure in the US.

“I encourage everyone around this table to also take strong national actions,” Biden said. “It will take all of us to meet this moment.”

The US hasn’t hosted the annual leaders’ summit — started in 1993 by President Bill Clinton — since 2011. The group met virtually in 2020 and 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Leaders did gather in Bangkok last year, but Biden skipped the summit because his granddaughter was getting married, and he sent Vice President Kamala Harris in his place.

The annual leaders’ conference brings together heads of nations and other top economic and diplomatic leaders.

Biden told those who gathered Wednesday evening at a welcome party — including Russia’s representative, Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overchuk — that today’s challenges were unlike those faced by previous APEC leaders.

Biden also sought to underscore that he was seeking to responsibly manage the United States’ strained relationship with China one day after he and Xi sat down for more than four hours of talks at bucolic Filoli Estate outside of San Francisco.

“A stable relationship between the world’s two largest economies is not merely good for the two economies but for the world,” Biden said. “A stable relationship. It’s good for everyone.”

Demonstrations in and around APEC continued on Thursday. Hours before leaders were to gather at the Moscone Center for the summit, protesters calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war were detained by police after shutting down all traffic over a major commuting bridge heading into San Francisco.

After decades of trade built on the premise of keeping prices low, accessing new markets and maximizing profits, many companies are now finding a vulnerable global economy.

The Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas conflicts aren’t helping matters.

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed frailties in their supply chains. Climate change has intensified natural disasters that can close factories.

The Israel-Hamas war and Ukraine’s defense against the Russian invasion have generated new financial risks, and new technologies such as artificial intelligence could change how companies operate and displace workers.

Xi too, met with American business leaders — at a $2,000-per-plate dinner Wednesday evening. It was a rare opportunity for the business leaders to hear directly from the Chinese president as they seek clarification on Beijing’s expanding security rules that could choke foreign investment.

“China is pursuing high-quality development, and the United States is revitalizing its economy,” he said, according to an English language translation.

“There is plenty of room for our cooperation, and we are fully able to help each other succeed and achieve win-win outcomes.”

He signaled that China would send the US new giant pandas, just a week after three from the Smithsonian National Zoo were returned to China, much to the dismay of Americans.

There are only four pandas left in the United States, at the Atlanta Zoo.

Biden and Xi understand that the complicated ties between the two nations have major global impacts. Their meeting Wednesday at a Northern California estate was in part an effort to show the world that while they are global economic competitors, the US and China aren’t rivals seeking conflict.

With his characteristic optimism, Biden sketched a vision of leaders who manage competition “responsibly,” adding, “That’s what the United States wants and what we intend to do.”

Xi, though, was gloomier about the state of the post-pandemic global economy. China’s economy remains in the doldrums, with prices falling due to slack demand from consumers and businesses.

“The global economy is recovering, but its momentum remains sluggish,” Xi said. “Industrial and supply chains are still under the threat of interruption, and protectionism is rising. All these are grave problems.”

White House officials said Biden has been bolstered by signs the US economy is in a stronger position than China’s and that the US was building stronger alliances throughout the Pacific.

Part of that is through the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, announced during a May 2022 trip to Tokyo. It came six years after the US unilaterally withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that was signed by 12 countries.

The new framework has four major pillars: supply chains, climate, anti-corruption and trade. There won’t be any official trade deals to announce — the “framework” label allows Biden to bypass Congress on any agreements reached with the 13 countries. Work on three of the four pillars had been completed.

While US allies are still are looking to hammer out comprehensive trade agreements with Washington, Biden administration officials are underscoring that IPEF has helped the US and partners take action at a far faster clip than traditional trade deals.

“Most trade negotiations take years to complete,” said Mike Pyle, Biden’s deputy national security adviser for international economics.

“The issues that are at the cutting edge of the global economic conversation, issues like supply chains, clean energy, good government —- we have struck agreements around them in just 18 months, with a full set of IPEF partners.”


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‘A cold cell for being a journalist’: Husband of US-Russian national Alsu Kurmasheva calls for her release

Alsu Kurmasheva is a dual US-Russian citizen and journalist who has been detained by Russia since October 18, charged with failing to register as a “foreign agent” despite having travelled to Russia for a family emergency. She faces up to five years in prison if convicted. Her husband has called for the State Department to designate her as “wrongfully detained”. “She is a US citizen and has the same rights as any US citizen,” he says.

Alsu Kurmasheva’s arrest is the most egregious instance to date of the abusive use of Russia’s foreign agents’ legislation against independent press,” the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in an October statement on her case.

Russia’s expanded law on foreign agents, which now vaguely defines them as anyone “under foreign influence”, has come under fire from human rights groups and media organisations since it entered into force on December 1, 2022. The law’s previous iteration required prosecutors to prove a “foreign agent” had received financial or other material assistance from abroad; the new measures give authorities much greater latitude.

Kurmasheva, an editor with the Tatar-Bashkir Service of US-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) – sister station to Voice of America – lives in Prague with her husband and two teenage daughters. She traveled to Kazan, the capital of Russia’s Tatarstan, on May 20 to visit her ailing mother. She was awaiting her flight home at Kazan airport on June 2 when her name was called out over the loudspeaker. Authorities briefly took her into custody and confiscated both her US and Russian passports, preventing her from leaving the country.  

“At that point she wasn’t a suspect, but they took both passports and her phone,” said her husband, Pavel Butorin. “It wasn’t until a couple of days later that she was charged with not registering her US passport,” which is now a criminal offense in Russia. 

Kurmasheva completed the necessary paperwork but was made to remain in Kazan for the next four months, when she was eventually fined 10,000 rubles (about $105) on October 11 for failing to register her passport initially. She was still awaiting the return of her travel documents on October 18 when “big men in black” came to her door and took her away, Butorin said. 

She has been in detention ever since. 

No official word from Russia

Kurmasheva was formally charged on October 26 with the much more serious offence of failing to register as a foreign agent under the expanded law. If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison. 

A Russian court ordered late last month that Kurmasheva remain in detention until December 5. 

“This offense that she has been charged with is not a violent crime,” Butorin said. “But the judge denied the request for house arrest pending trial.” 

The decision to charge her under the foreign agent statute is all the more surprising because she was travelling not as a journalist but on a family-related matter, he said. 

“She was there in her personal capacity on what was supposed to be a short trip, two weeks at the most, to help her mom.”

He suspects there is a “clear connection” between Kurmasheva’s detention and her role as a journalist, notably since Russia has designated the Tatar-Bashkir Service for which she works as a “foreign agent” media organisation. Much of her career, however, has focused on advancing Tatar language and culture

“She’s not an agent of any government, certainly not an agent of the US government,” Butorin said. “She’s a journalist. And we want her released as soon as possible.”

Butorin, who also works in media, is director of Current Time, RFE/RL’s 24-hour Russian-language TV and digital news platform. 

He said he hopes the State Department will see fit to designate Kurmasheva as a “wrongfully detained person”, which would allow her case to be transferred to the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA), unlocking both US resources and expertise. SPEHA was involved in the release of both Basketball star Brittney Griner and Marine veteran Trevor Reed from Russian detention last year.

A State Department spokesperson said it is “closely following” Kurmasheva’s detention and is continuing to push for consular access, but that “Russian authorities have not yet responded to our requests”.

Moreover, the State Department said it has “not yet been officially notified by the Russian Government of her detention”.

Asked whether Kurmasheva’s dual nationality was complicating her case, the spokesperson noted only that Russia is among the nations that may refuse to acknowledge the US citizenship of a dual national.

“Many countries do not recognize dual nationality” even if they do not expressly prohibit it, the spokesperson said in an email.

As a result, some “do not grant access to … US nationals in detention if they are also nationals of the country where they are detained”. 

Calls to #FreeAlsu have been making the rounds on social media. © Courtesy RFE/RL

Cold and overcrowded

Since Russia’s law on foreign agents first came into effect in 2012, Moscow has used it to punish government critics including civil society groups, rights NGOs, media outlets and activists. Russia has also been accused of detaining Americans simply to use them as bargaining chips in exchange for Russians held by the United States: Griner’s freedom was traded for that of notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Kurmasheva has been granted access to a lawyer but not visits or phone calls with her family, although her husband said she has been allowed to exchange (censored) letters with them over the prison’s official online system, “a paid system that takes only Russian cards”.

Only some of the conditions of her detention are known. Her prison is likely overcrowded and is certainly cold, Butorin said, noting that it is currently near 0°C (32°F) in Kazan and that Kurmasheva is not allowed to receive extra blankets from family or friends. 

“We’ve been without Alsu for close to six months now,” he said. “It’s a very unsettling situation.” 

As “free-thinking, independent girls”, his daughters are also struggling with the harsh reality of their mother’s plight. 

“It’s hard for them to comprehend that their mother is being held in a cold Russian prison cell just for being a journalist.”

Nevertheless, they are looking to the future.

“We have Taylor Swift tickets for the Eras Tour, and we have a ticket with Alsu’s name on it,” Butorin said. “I want us to go together as a family.” 

Alsu Kurmasheva has been held in Russian detention since October 18, 2023.
Alsu Kurmasheva has been held in Russian detention since October 18, 2023. © Pavel Butorin courtesy RFE/RL

Harassment of US citizens

“This appears to be another case of the Russian government harassing US citizens,” State Department spokesman Matt Miller said in October of Kurmasheva’s detention.   

Numerous US lawmakers, the UN human rights office, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the president of the European Parliament are among the international bodies demanding she be freed. 

Butorin said he would like to see Muslim nations joining these calls, given that Kurmasheva is a proud Tatar, part of a predominantly Muslim, Turkic-speaking minority in Russia.  

“I would very much like to see more involvement notably from Turkey, given Alsu’s Turkic origins, as well as the involvement of other Muslim nations in lobbying for her release,” he said. 

Media organisations have also joined the calls for her freedom. “We urge the U.S. government to immediately designate Alsu Kurmasheva’s imprisonment as an unlawful and wrongful detention. The Biden administration is taking too long to make this important designation,” the National Press Club said in a statement last week. 

Kurmasheva is the second US journalist currently being held by Russia, after Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was detained on espionage charges in March – the first time Russia had accused a US journalist of spying since the Cold War.

The State Department classified Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained” in April. 


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Taiwan set to dominate talks as Xi meets Biden in San Francisco

Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet US counterpart Joe Biden in San Francisco on Wednesday for the two leaders’ first face-to-face meeting following a turbulent 12 months for US-China relations. Taiwan, a long-term source of disagreement between the two nations, is expected to top the agenda.

The two heads of state will meet on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the Californian city, their first encounter since a meeting on November 14th 2022, in Bali.  

Positive momentum following the G20 summit was swiftly derailed by various spats that brought relations between the US and China to their lowest level in years.  

The US shot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon over its territory in February 2023, an incursion the US described as “unacceptable”.  

China said US accusations amounted to “information warfare”, and delayed a planned visit to the People’s Republic by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. 

A cumulation of trade tensions and sanctions also contributed to bring relations to their lowest points in decades before a flurry of high-level diplomacy, including Blinken’s eventual trip to Beijing in June, signalled ambitions on both sides to mend ties. 

Wednesday’s meeting is likely being seen as an opportunity to “calm relations, to not inflame things further in context full of difficult and tense and inflamed issues,” says Astrid Nordin, Lau Chair of Chinese International Relations at King’s College London. 

“We’re not trying to decouple from China. What we’re trying to do is change the relationship for the better,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Tuesday, shortly before heading to San Francisco.

Semiconductors, climate agreements, and fentanyl trafficking are all expected to be on the agenda for the talks. “But from Beijing’s perspective, the most important issue in the US-China relationship will be over Taiwan,” Nordin says. 

Taiwan is critically important in the relationship between China and the USA because of its geostrategic location and its symbolism,” adds Steve Tsang, Director of the China Institute at SOAS University of London.  

Symbolism, geopolitics 

Taiwan will take part in this week’s APEC forum under the name “Chinese Taipei”. While the island’s democratically elected leadership maintains it is an independent country, China claims it as a province of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). 

In the past year and a half, Taiwan has faced increased military pressure from Beijing, raising fears China intends to fulfil its ambition to “unify” Taiwan with the mainland and using force if necessary. 

Read moreMore than 100 Chinese warplanes and nine navy ships spotted around Taiwan


At the same time, the US has bolstered its support for Taiwan with a high-profile visit from US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in August 2022 and by increasing its capacity to buy US weapons

Taiwan matters to the US as a “symbolic issue of providing support for a democratic ally in the face of potential hostile invasion”, says Nordin. “A US president would not want to be the person who stands aside and just looks on if that happens.” 

Biden has been more outspoken than his predecessor in his rhetorical support for Taiwan and its self-governance. 

The island is also geographically significant for the US with a strategically advantageous position off the Pacific coast of China, linking in alliances with nearby Japan, South Korea and the Philippines.  

For China, the stakes are also high. Reintegration of Taiwan into the PRC is a question of national identity, unity and security. 

Historically, China considers Taiwan not only part of China but also part of its “First Island Chain” – a first line of defence off the Pacific coast, “the taking of which will not only secure China’s Eastern Seaboard but also enable the Chinese navy and air force to project power into the Pacific”, says Tsang. 

In recent years, “Xi Jinping has been more explicit than previous generations of leadership that he does not want to leave the status quo [in Taiwan] for the next generation,” says Nordin. 

‘Getting back on a normal course’

For decades, China has shown little appetite for military intervention in Taiwan, instead proposing that it be integrated into the PRC under a “one country, two systems” formula, that was used for Hong Kong. 

The US has also found ways to appease both China and Taiwan: it recognises Beijing as the government of China and doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Taiwan under the “One China” policy.  

At the same time it has a “robust unofficial relationship” with Taiwan and has pledged military support under the Taiwan Relations Act were the island’s security to come under threat.   

As such, forced unity with Taiwan “can only happen if China can either deter the US from interfering or defeat the US forces sent to help Taiwan defend itself”, says Tsang.  

Either scenario would mean that China had “devastated the US’s credibility in the Asian Pacific”, he adds.  

So, what hope for compromise when the two leaders meet on Wednesday? 

“Neither party will yield to the other on Taiwan,” Tsang says. “The best any US president or Chinese supreme leader can do over Taiwan is to ease tensions by making noises that enable the other side to turn the temperature down.”   

But the fact that the leaders are meeting at all is a sign of political will to reduce the heat after a tumultuous 12 months.  

“There’s been a lot of work going on over summer in preparation for this meeting and the fact that it is now culminating in face-to-face talks might be a sign that there has been some stabilisation in the US-China relationship” adds Nordin.  

Asked what he hoped to achieve at the meeting, Biden said he wanted “to get back on a normal course of corresponding; being able to pick up the phone and talk to one another if there’s a crisis; being able to make sure our military still have contact with one another”.

Despite positive noises, any agreement on a way forward in Taiwan is, Nordin says, “highly unlikely”.  

“But what there might be is a de-escalation in rhetoric and scope for both nudging closer to a stabilisation of the status quo. The absence of worsening, perhaps, is something to aspire to in this scenario.” 

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US Houses approves $14 billion ‘Israel only’ bill

The first substantial legislative effort in Congress to support Israel in the war falls far short of Biden’s request for nearly $106 billion that would also back Ukraine as it fights Russia, along with US efforts to counter China and address security at the border with Mexico.


The United States House of Representatives approved a nearly $14.5 billion military aid package Thursday for Israel, a muscular US response to the war with Hamas but also a partisan approach by new Speaker Mike Johnson that poses a direct challenge to Democrats and President Joe Biden.

In a departure from norms, Johnson’s package required that the emergency aid be offset with cuts in government spending elsewhere. That tack established the new House GOP’s conservative leadership, but it also turned what would typically be a bipartisan vote into one dividing Democrats and Republicans. Biden has said he would veto the bill, which was approved 226-196, with 12 Democrats joining most Republicans on a largely party-line vote.

Johnson,  a Republican Congressman from Louisiana, said the package would provide Israel with the assistance needed to defend itself, free hostages held by Hamas and eradicate the militant Palestinian group, accomplishing “all of this while we also work to ensure responsible spending and reduce the size of the federal government.”

Democrats said that approach would only delay help for Israel. Senate Majority Leader and New York Democrat Chuck Schumer has warned that the “stunningly unserious” bill has no chance in the Senate.

The first substantial legislative effort in Congress to support Israel in the war falls far short of Biden’s request for nearly $106 billion that would also back Ukraine as it fights Russia, along with US efforts to counter China and address security at the border with Mexico.

It is also Johnson’s first big test as House speaker as the Republican majority tries to get back to work after the month of turmoil since ousting California representative Kevin McCarthy as speaker. Johnson has said he will turn next to aid for Ukraine along with US border security, preferring to address Biden’s requests separately as GOP lawmakers increasingly oppose aiding Kyiv.

The White House’s veto warning said Johnson’s approach “fails to meet the urgency of the moment” and would set a dangerous precedent by requiring emergency funds to come from cuts elsewhere.

While the amount for Israel in the House bill is similar to what Biden sought, the White House said the Republican plan’s failure to include humanitarian assistance for Gaza is a “grave mistake” as the crisis deepens.

Biden on Wednesday called for a pause in the war to allow for relief efforts.

“This bill would break with the normal, bipartisan approach to providing emergency national security assistance,” the White House wrote in its statement of administration policy on the legislation. It said the GOP stance “would have devastating implications for our safety and alliances in the years ahead.”

It was unclear before voting Thursday how many Democrats would join with Republicans. The White House had been directly appealing to lawmakers, particularly calling Jewish Democrats, urging them to reject the bill.

White House chief of staff Jeff Zients, counsellor to the president Steve Ricchetti and other senior White House staff have been engaging House Democrats, said a person familiar with the situation and granted anonymity to discuss it.

But the vote was difficult for some lawmakers, particularly Democrats who wanted to support Israel and may have trouble explaining the trade-off to constituents, especially as the large AIPAC lobby and other groups encouraged passage. In all, two Republicans opposed the bill.

Democrat Brad Schneider of Illinois who voted against the package, said: “It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.”

To pay for the bill, House Republicans have attached provisions that would cut billions from the IRS that Democrats approved last year and Biden signed into law as a way to go after tax cheats. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says doing that would end up costing the federal government a net $12.5 billion because of lost revenue from tax collections. Taken together, the cost of the aid package and revenue reduction adds up to more than $26 billion.

Republicans scoffed at that assessment, but the independent budget office is historically seen as a trusted referee.

Backers said the package would provide support for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system, procurement of advanced weaponry and other military needs, and help with protection and evacuations of US citizens. CBO pegged the overall package at about $14.3 billion for Israel.

Dems call to restore humanitarian aid

As the floor debate got underway, Democrats pleaded for Republicans to restore the humanitarian aid Biden requested and decried the politicization of typically widely bipartisan Israel support.


“Republicans are leveraging the excruciating pain of an international crisis to help rich people who cheat on their taxes and big corporations who regularly dodge their taxes,” said Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee.

Dan Goldman of New York described hiding in a stairwell with his wife and children while visiting Israel as rockets fired in what he called the most horrific attack on Jews since the Holocaust.

Nevertheless, Goldman said he opposed the Republican-led bill as a “shameful effort” to turn the situation in Israel and the Jewish people into a political weapon.

“Support for Israel may be a political game for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle,” the Democrat said. “But this is personal for us Jews and it is existential for the one Jewish nation in the world that is a safe haven from the rising tide of antisemitism around the globe.”

The Republicans have been attacking Democrats who raise questions about Israel’s war tactics as antisemitic. The House tried to censure the only Palestinian-American lawmaker in Congress, Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib, over remarks she made. The censure measure failed.


Andrew Clyde, a Republican representative from Georgia, said he was “so thankful there is no humanitarian aid,” which he argued could fall into the hands of Hamas.

No chance in the Senate

In the Democratic-controlled Senate, Schumer made clear that the House bill would be rejected.

“The Senate will not take up the House GOP’s deeply flawed proposal, and instead we’ll work on our own bipartisan emergency aid package” that includes money for Israel and Ukraine, as well as humanitarian assistance for Gaza and efforts to confront China.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is balancing the need to support his GOP allies in the House while also fighting to keep the aid package more in line with Biden’s broader request, believing all the issues are linked and demand US attention.

McConnell said the aid for Ukraine was “not charity” but was necessary to bolster a Western ally against Russia.


In other action Thursday, the House overwhelmingly approved a Republican-led resolution that focused on college campus activism over the Israel-Hamas war. The nonbinding resolution would condemn support of Hamas, Hezbollah and terrorist organizations at institutions of higher education.

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Pence quits the presidential race after struggling to gain traction

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday dropped his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, ending his campaign for the White House after struggling to raise money and gain traction in the polls.

“It’s become clear to me: This is not my time,” Pence said at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual gathering in Las Vegas. “So after much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president effective today.”

“We always knew this would be an uphill battle, but I have no regrets,” Pence went on to tell the friendly audience, which reacted with audible surprise to the announcement and gave him multiple standing ovations.

Pence is the first major candidate to leave a race that has been dominated by his former boss-turned-rival, Donald Trump, and his struggles underscore just how much Trump has transformed the party. A former vice president would typically be seen as a formidable challenger in any primary, but Pence has struggled to find a base of support.

Pence did not immediately endorse any of his rivals, but continued to echo language he has used to criticize Trump.

“I urge all my fellow Republicans here, give our country a Republican standard-bearer that will, as Lincoln said, appeal to the better angels of our nature, and not only lead us to victory, but lead our nation with civility,” he said.

Pence’s decision, more than two months before the Iowa caucuses that he had staked his campaign on, saves him from accumulating additional debt, as well as the embarrassment of potentially failing to qualify for the third Republican primary debate, on Nov. 8 in Miami.

But his withdrawal is a huge blow for a politician who spent years biding his time as Trump’s most loyal lieutenant, only to be scapegoated during their final days in office when Trump became convinced that Pence somehow had the power to overturn the results of the 2020 election and keep both men in office — a power Pence did not possess. 

While Pence averted a constitutional crisis by rejecting the scheme, he drew Trump’s fury, as well as the wrath of many of Trump’s supporters, who still believed his lies about the election and see Pence as a traitor.

Among Trump critics, meanwhile, Pence was seen as an enabler who defended the former president at every turn and refused to criticize even Trump’s most indefensible actions time and again.

As a result, an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research from August found that the majority of U.S. adults, 57%, viewed Pence negatively, with only 28% having a positive view.

Throughout his campaign, the former Indiana governor and congressman had insisted that while he was well-known by voters, he was not “known well” and set out to change that with an aggressive schedule that included numerous stops at diners and Pizza Ranch restaurants.

Pence had been betting on Iowa, a state with a large white Evangelical population that has a long history of elevating religious and socially conservative candidates such as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Rick Santorum. Pence often campaigned with his wife, Karen, a Christian school teacher, and emphasized his hard-line views on issues such as abortion, which he opposes even in cases when a pregnancy is unviable. He repeatedly called on his fellow candidates to support a minimum 15-week national ban and he pushed to ban drugs used as alternatives to surgical procedures.

He tried to confront head-on his actions on Jan. 6, 2021 , explaining to voters over and over that he had done his constitutional duty that day, knowing full well the political consequences. It was a strategy that aides believed would help defuse the issue and earn Pence the respect of a majority of Republicans, whom they were were convinced did not agree with Trump’s actions.

But even in Iowa, Pence struggled to gain traction.

He had an equally uphill climb raising money, despite yearslong relationships with donors. Pence ended September with just $1.18 million in the bank and $621,000 in debt, according to his most recent campaign filing. That debt had grown in the weeks since and adding to it would have taken Pence, who is not independently wealthy, years pay off.

The Associated Press first reported earlier this month that people close to Pence had begun to feel that remaining a candidate risked diminishing his long-term standing in the party, given Trump’s dominating lead in the race for the 2024 nomination. While they said Pence could stick it out until the Jan. 15 Iowa caucuses if he wanted — campaigning on a shoestring budget and accumulating debt — he would have to consider how that might affect his ability to remain a leading voice in the conservative movement, as he hopes.

Some said that Hamas’ attack on Israel in October, which pushed foreign policy to the forefront of the campaign, had given Pence a renewed sense of purpose given his warnings throughout the campaign against the growing tide of isolationism in the Republican Party. Pence had argued that he was the race’s most experienced candidate and decried “voices of appeasement” among Republican, arguing they had emboldened groups such as Hamas.

But ultimately, Pence concluded that he could continue to speak out on the issue without continuing the campaign. He chose the Las Vegas event to announce his decision, in part, so he could address the topic one last time before formally leaving the race.

He is expected to remain engaged, in part through Advancing American Freedom, the conservative think tank he founded after leaving the vice presidency and that he envisions it as an alternative to the The Heritage Foundation.

Pence’s group is expected to continued to advocate for policies that he supported in his run, including pushing for more U.S. support for Ukraine’s defense against the Russian invasion and proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare to rein in the debt. Such ideas were once the bread-and-butter of Republican establishment orthodoxy but have fallen out of a favor as the party has embraced Trump’s isolationist and populist views.


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