9:31 A.M. EDT
MS. WAGENSELLER: Hey, everyone. Thanks for joining us for an on-the-record call to discuss critical national security needs Congress must address for the American people.
As a reminder, this call is on the record and embargoed until 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time today.
We’re joined today by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Shalanda Young. Director Young and the National Security Advisor will make a few brief comments at the top, and then we’ll leave some time for questions at the end.
And with that, I’ll turn it over to Director Young.
DIRECTOR YOUNG: Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining us today.
The administration is transmitting to Congress a supplemental funding request, which addresses critical national security needs for fiscal year 2024.
Over the coming weeks, the administration looks forward to continued engagement with members of both parties to reach a comprehensive, bipartisan agreement to fund the government and invest in critical national priorities.
As part of this process, Congress has an opportunity and obligation to advance our national security by addressing these needs, which should earn bipartisan support.
This request reflects how under President Biden’s leadership, the U.S. has rallied the world, building a coalition of more than 50 countries to respond to Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, and we are now coming to the aid of our ally, Israel.
This supplemental request invests over $50 billion in the American defense industrial base, ensuring our military continues to be the most ready, capable, and best-equipped fighting force the world has ever seen.
The funding will expand production lines, strengthen the American economy, keep us safe, and create new American jobs.
This request also addresses the global humanitarian impacts of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and of Hamas’s horrific attacks on Israel, including by extending humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza.
It provides resources to ensure we can compete with China by offering developing countries a better value proposition, and it supports U.S. capabilities and initiatives that bolster security and stability in the Indo-Pacific.
And finally, it provides the resources our law enforcement personnel need to keep the southwest border secure and stop the flow of fentanyl into our country.
Specifically, it includes funding for an additional 1,300 Border Patrol agents, 375 immigration judge teams, and 1,600 asylum officers; over 100 cutting-edge detection machines to help detect fentanyl at our southwest border ports of entry;
and an additional 1,000 law enforcement personnel, as well as investigative capabilities, to prevent cartels from moving fentanyl into the country.
Let me be clear: Some in Congress have said a lot about doing something on border security while refusing to take up the $4 billion request we sent in August to Congress.
We will not be lectured by those who refuse to act. As we’ve said repeatedly, Congress needs to take action to provide sufficient resources for the border.
The world is watching, and the American people rightly expect their leaders to come together and deliver on these priorities. And I urge Congress to address them as part of a comprehensive, bipartisan agreement in the weeks ahead.
I’ll now turn it over to Jake to walk through pieces of the request in more detail.
MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you. Thank you, Shalanda. And thanks, everybody, for joining this call.
Last night, as you all saw, President Biden gave an important speech about the indispensable role of American leadership on the world stage.
As you all know, his remarks last night and this budget request today come amid a global inflection point, following Hamas’s horrific terrorist attacks against our ally, Israel, which took the lives of more than 1,300 people, including 31 Americans, and as the people of Ukraine continue to fight every day for their freedom and independence against Russian brutality.
As President Biden said, these conflicts can seem far away, but the outcome of these fights for democracy against terrorism and tyranny are vital to the safety and security of the American people.
The President made a compelling case for why we need Congress to urgently pass a budget that meets America’s national security needs and those of our critical partners.
Starting first with further aid to Israel: Like all of you, President Biden was horrified by the terrorist attacks we saw Hamas commit. The President directed his team to take immediate action to do everything we could to ensure the government of Israel has what it needs to defend its nation and its people.
Using previously approved congressional authorities, we’ve delivered military aid, including munitions and interceptors for the Iron Dome system, which is protecting people every day from Hamas rockets.
To build on that support, the administration is now requesting funding to invest in Israel’s defense against terrorists, including by strengthening its air and missile defense systems.
We are requesting an increase in security assistance for Israel to help it protect its people as well as the many Americans who live in Israel and travel to Israel.
At the same time, we are also requesting support to provide lifesaving humanitarian assistance for civilians impacted by the war in Gaza who have nothing to do with Hamas and are suffering greatly as well.
This budget request will also help the Amer- — the administration enhance embassy security in Israel and for neighboring embassies as we stay vigilant against threats to our personnel who serve our country every day overseas.
Second, on Ukraine: As the President spoke about last night, we have to continue to stand up to tyranny and aggression and defend Ukraine against this brutal Russian invasion.
We know from history that if we walk away and let someone like Vladimir Putin erase Ukraine’s independence, he will not stop there and would-be aggressors around the world would be emboldened.
We have to send the unmistakable message that in the 21st century, a dictator cannot be allowed to conquer or carve up his neighbor.
And President Biden made a very important point in his speech last night when he said that President Putin — reflecting on the possibility that America would stop providing assistance to Ukraine, President Putin said that Ukraine would have one week to live — one week to live.
Putin is betting that the United States will walk away from defending its democratic partner, Ukraine; walk away from the coalition of countries it has built over the last 18 months.
And Joe Biden and the American people are going to prove Vladimir Putin wrong, and we’re asking Congress to join us in that.
The weapons and military aid the United States and our allies and partners have provided Ukraine over the past two years have made a tremendous difference, helping Ukraine win the battles for Kyiv, Kherson, and Kharkiv. And we can see the impacts of what we’re providing Ukraine every day as Ukraine fights for its sovereign territory and defends against continuing Russian efforts to take more Ukrainian territory.
However, the funding and authorities the Congress previously approved overwhelmingly has nearly run out, and we need congressional action to ensure that we can continue to meet Ukraine’s battlefield needs and protect its people while they’re under attack.
So, as Ukrainians wage a tough counteroffensive, as it defends against a new Russian offensive, and as winter fast approaches, the world is closely watching what Congress does next. That includes both the people of Ukraine as they fight for their country and those in the Kremlin who seek to erase it.
Third, it’s critically important that we maintain our focus on strengthening deterrence in the Indo-Pacific and supporting key allies and partners as part of our efforts to maintain peace and stability.
Our allies and partners in the region need our support more than ever, and this request provides significant new resources to help them build the capabilities necessary to meet emerging challenges.
The budget request makes notable, strategic investments, including by strengthening our submarine industrial base, a key component to making our AUKUS agreement a success; and by improving our infrastructure and adding capacity to meet U.S. military requirements.
We would also expand development finance to the countries hard hit by the spillovers of Russia’s war through funding for the World Bank and provide alternatives to coercive and unsustainable financing for developing countries around the world.
Finally, I would note that this budget request also invests in America as a critical component of President Biden’s foreign policy for the middle class. It will allow us to have more weapons and equipment that defend America to be made in America.
As the President spoke about last night, the work we’re doing to increase our military industrial base by manufacturing more artillery shells, Patriot missiles, and more is supporting jobs across the country and serving the cause of freedom.
Taken together, this budget request is critical to advancing America’s national security and ensuring the safety of the American people.
And with that, I’ll turn it back to Shalanda.
MS. WAGENSELLER: Great. Moderator, I think we’re ready to take some questions.
Q Hey, guys. Thanks for holding this call. Obviously, currently, there’s no Speaker of the House. I noticed the letter is addressed to Speaker Pro Tem Patrick McHenry. Do you anticipate that if the Speaker battle continues to stretch out that this will cause any problems for the supplemental security request?
DIRECTOR YOUNG: Look, you know I worked in the House a very long time, and I now work for President Biden. That is a matter for the House to work out.
What I will tell you — as you heard the National Security Advisor lay out, you heard the President lay out last night what’s at stake here — it is the President’s job, our jobs to make clear to Congress what the needs are and what happens if this critical funding is not delivered. So, we’re doing our job here by letting Congress know what the critical needs are, and we expect them to act and act swiftly.
Q Hi, this is Bryant Harris with Defense News. Thank you for doing this. One quick question, and then — so, first, the $2 billion for Indo-Pacific FMS. I’m wondering if that’s all for Taiwan or is that for partners throughout the region?
And two, the conventional arms transfer policy the Biden administration announced earlier this year, you know, said if it’s more likely than not that weapons we send will be used in violation of international law, we won’t send them.
There have been concerns about Israel’s use of the PGMs we’re sending in Gaza with regards to civilian casualties. So, can you talk about how you’re squaring that with your conventional arms transfer policy?
MR. SULLIVAN: It’s Jake. I think I heard the two questions.
On the first one, the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing that’s included in the Indo-Pacific portion of the supplemental request is for multiple partners in the region to strengthen deterrence and enhance peace and stability across the entire Indo-Pacific region.
As for the second question, the President has been clear from the earliest days, following the heinous terrorist attacks and assault by Hamas, that the United States and Israel, as fellow democracies, have a commitment to the rule of law and the law of war.
All of our arms transfers, including arms transfers to Israel, are rooted in the basic proposition that they will be used consistent with law of armed conflict. There is no exception here and no difference here from any of our other arms transfers.
And the President’s expectations in this regard are entirely clear, and he has stated them repeatedly, including stating them directly in his public remarks as well as privately to counterparts in the Israeli government.
Q Hi. Good morning. The materials say that there will be $9.15 billion allocated to humanitarian assistance for needs in Israel, Ukraine, Gaza, and other areas. I’m wondering if you could elaborate how that’s broken down across regions. How much of that is specifically earmarked for Gaza, for instance?
DIRECTOR YOUNG: Yeah, I’m happy to take that. This is Director Young. There’s $10 billion for humanitarian — that’s State and USAID programs. Humanitarian is always flexible. The world is — things happen we need to be able to respond to. So, that is a flexible pot of money that allows us to respond.
But you’ve already seen a commitment from this administration in making sure humanitarian aid gets to those in Gaza. So, we imagine that aid will continue robustly as Congress funds more humanitarian aid.
But that account has flexibility to allow State and USAID to assess what is happening on the ground around the globe and respond with critical dollars to ensure that people have the things that they need to survive these conflicts and other scenarios across the globe.
MS. WAGENSELLER: Moderator, I think we have time for one more question.
Q Hi, I have a question about support for Israel. I see $10.6 billion for air and missile defense support. Can you be more specific on what weapons the U.S. is providing Israel this time? Is it purely defensive weapons or are there offensive weapons? What are we talking about there?
And along those same lines, are there new weapons being provided to Ukraine that have not been provided before — different types of weapons?
MR. SULLIVAN: So, with respect to Ukraine, for starters, the request does not specifically elaborate which weapons systems will be provided. And, as you know, over the course of the war that Russia has perpetrated against Ukraine, we have added new weapon systems over time.
The President has the discretion based on circumstances of the conflict, the situation on the ground, consultations with allies to make determinations about whether he will provide weapons systems to Ukraine that we have not previously provided.
And there are also constant developments in technology and capacity. And we have contracted for certain types of weapons systems that have yet to be delivered because they’re still in production. And we expect them to be delivered in the coming months.
So, this supplemental does not specifically answer the question as to which weapon systems will be provided to Ukraine in terms of additional capacities that haven’t been provided, but we’ll stay closely aligned with the Congress and consult with them as we always do if indeed we introduce a new capability in Ukraine.
With respect to Israel, the way the funding request works is that it will allow for us to acquire and provide more air and missile defense support to make necessary industrial base investments to increase our capacity to generate the types of systems that Ukraine ne- — Israel needs to defend itself and also to replenish DOD stocks for munitions that we have provided them.
I will refer you to DOD to kind of talk through the specific munitions that they have provided and are providing now that will get replenished. I will just say that the way this budget request is structured is not specific — like with Ukraine, it is not specific to a particular munition. It is about making the investments we need to produce, the funding we need to replenish DOD stocks for things we’re taking out of stocks to give to them, and then funding for them to be able to enhance their air and missile defense capabilities.
And I don’t know if Shalanda has anything to add, but that’s what I’ve got on that question.
MS. WAGENSELLER: Great. Well, thank you all again for joining. As a reminder, the materials you received prior to the call and the contents of this call are embargoed until 10:30am today.
If you have any additional follow-up questions, feel free to reach out to me directly at OMB.
Thanks, again. And have a great day.
9:50 A.M. EDT