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US House to vote on long-awaited $95 billion Ukraine, Israel aid package

In Business
April 20, 2024

A view of the U.S. Capitol.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on Saturday is set to vote on, and expected to pass, a $95 billion legislative package providing security assistance to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, over bitter objections from party hardliners.

More than two months have passed since the Democratic-majority Senate passed a similar measure and U.S. leaders from Democratic President Joe Biden to top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell have been urging embattled House Speaker Mike Johnson to bring it up for a vote.

Johnson this week chose to ignore ouster threats by hardline members of his fractious 218-213 majority and push forward the measure that includes some $60.84 billion for Ukraine as it struggles to fight off a two-year Russian invasion.

The unusual four-bill package also includes funds for Israel, security assistance for Taiwan and allies in the Indo-Pacific and a measure that includes sanctions, a threat to ban the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok and the potential transfer of seized Russian assets to Ukraine.

“The world is watching what the Congress does,” the White House said in a statement on Friday. “Passing this legislation would send a powerful message about the strength of American leadership at a pivotal moment. The Administration urges both chambers of the Congress to quickly send this supplemental funding package to the President’s desk.”

A bipartisan 316-94 House majority on Friday voted to advance the bill to a vote, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told senators to be ready to work over the weekend if it passes the House as expected.

“It’s not the perfect legislation, it’s not the legislation that we would write if Republicans were in charge of both the House, the Senate, and the White House,” Johnson told reporters on Friday. “This is the best possible product that we can get under these circumstances to take care of these really important obligations.”

Some hardline Republicans have voiced strong opposition to further Ukraine aid, with some arguing the U.S. can ill afford it given its rising $34 trillion national debt. They have repeatedly raised the threat of ousting Johnson, who became speaker in October after his predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, was ousted by party hardliners.

Representative Bob Good, chair of the hardline House Freedom Caucus, told reporters on Friday that the bills represent a “slide down into the abyss of greater fiscal crisis and America-last policies that reflect Biden and Schumer and (House Democratic leader Hakeem) Jeffries, and don’t reflect the American people.”

But Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who carries huge influence in the party, on April 12 voiced support for Johnson and in a Thursday social media post said Ukraine’s survival is important for the U.S.

The bills provide $60.84 billion to address the conflict in Ukraine, including $23 billion to replenish U.S. weapons, stocks and facilities; $26 billion for Israel, including $9.1 billion for humanitarian needs, and $8.12 billion for the Indo-Pacific.

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