Ukraine, Israel Aid: US House Passes $95Billion Aid Packages

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Washington: The US House of Representatives on Saturday with bipartisan support passed a $ 95 billion legislative package which provides security assistance to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, over bitter objections from Republican hardliners.

The legislation now proceeds to a Democratic Majority Senate, which passed a similar measure more than two months ago. U.S. leaders from Democratic President Joe Biden to top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell had been urging Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson to bring it up for a vote. With some preliminary votes that afternoon, the Senate is scheduled to start debating the bill that was passed by the House on Tuesday. It was anticipated that final passage would occur sometime next week, paving the door for Biden to sign it into law.

$60.84 billion, including $23 billion for restocking US arsenals, supplies, and infrastructure, is allocated by the bills to address the conflict in Ukraine; $26 billion is designated for Israel, with $9.1 billion going toward humanitarian aid; and $8.12 billion is allocated for the Indo-Pacific region, which includes Taiwan. Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the president of Ukraine, thanked American politicians for taking action to ensure that “history is on the right track.”

“The vital U.S. aid bill passed today by the House will keep the war from expanding, save thousands and thousands of lives, and help both of our nations to become stronger,” Zelenskiy said on X. According to a White House official, the Biden administration is already drafting its next round of aid for Ukraine so that it can make an announcement about it shortly after the measure is signed into law and satisfy the country’s pressing requirements on the battlefield.

It was unclear when the fresh military aid for Ukraine would run out, which is probably why Congress will be asked to take additional action. In a statement, Biden said, “It comes at a moment of grave urgency, with Israel facing unprecedented attacks from Iran and Ukraine under continued bombardment from Russia.” Biden has been pleading with Congress to authorize the additional aid to Ukraine since last year.

The financing for Ukraine was approved 311–112. Remarkably, only 101 Republicans supported the legislation, while 112 opposed it. Following his defeat, far-right Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene told reporters, “Mike Johnson is a lame duck… he’s done.” She has done actions that raise the possibility of Johnson’s removal from office because she has been a vocal opponent of aiding Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. Greene did not go so far on Saturday, though.

Several MPs waved little Ukrainian flags during the vote, signalling that they believed the bill would pass in part. Congress was cautioned by Johnson that this was a “violation of decorum.” Meanwhile, the House’s unusual Saturday session revealed some fissures in the body of Congress’s typically strong support for Israel. Progressive Democrats have been vocal about their displeasure with Israel’s leadership and how it has handled the Gaza War in recent months.

In the 366-58 vote on Saturday, there were 21 Republicans and 37 Democrats voting against the Israel aid. U.S. defence companies were keeping a careful eye on the long-awaited legislation’s passage because they might be awarded large contracts to provide Ukraine and other U.S. partners with equipment.

Johnson this week decided to move on with the measure that includes funding for Ukraine as it battles a two-year Russian invasion, despite threats to have him removed from office made by hardline members of his fragile 218-213 majority. The peculiar four-bill bundle also has a provision that might result in the seizure of Russian assets and a ban on the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok.

Hardline Republicans who were adamantly against additional help to Ukraine claimed that the US could not afford it in light of the country’s growing $34 trillion debt. They have threatened to remove Johnson on multiple occasions. Johnson was elected speaker in October following the removal of party hardliners Kevin McCarthy.

“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 Reuters on Friday. “This is the best possible product that we can get under these circumstances to take care of these really important obligations.”

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 (Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck) Schumer and (House Democratic leader Hakeem) Jeffries, and don’t reflect the American people.”

However, the party’s most powerful Republican contender for president, Donald Trump, expressed his support for Johnson on April 12 and stated on social media on Thursday that the US needs Ukraine to survive.

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