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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Joan E Greve

US House to vote on long-delayed foreign aid bills – including Ukraine support

White man in a suit speaks into a mic at a lectern.
Mike Johnson has finally brought the foreign aid bills to a vote. Photograph: Michael McCoy/Reuters

The US House of Representatives will finally vote on Saturday on a series of foreign aid bills, bringing an end to a months-long standoff in Congress led mostly by Republicans who refuse to support funding Ukraine’s ongoing military defense against Russia’s invasion.

House members will hold separate votes on four bills that represent $95bn in funding altogether – including roughly $26bn in aid for Israel, $61bn for Ukraine, $8bn for US allies in the Indo-Pacific region and $9bn in humanitarian assistance for civilians in war zones, such as Gaza.

The package largely mirrors the foreign aid proposal passed by the Senate in February, although the House legislation designates $10bn of the Ukraine funding as a repayable loan to appease some Republican members who are hesitant to approve additional aid.

If passed, the legislation will provide a crucial financial lifeline for Ukraine at a time when the country’s military appears at its most vulnerable since the start of the war, due to dwindling supplies of ammunition and air defense missiles.

The bills are expected to pass the House, after they easily cleared a key procedural hurdle on Friday before the final vote. Those that pass will be combined into a single package in order to simplify the voting process for the Senate, which will need to reapprove the proposal before it can go to Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

The procedural vote on the House package was 316 to 94, with 165 Democrats and 151 Republicans supporting the motion. The House speaker, Republican Mike Johnson, needed to rely on Democratic votes to pass the procedural motion, and he will almost certainly need to do so again to get the Ukraine aid bill across the finish line.

“It’s long past time that we support our democratic allies in Israel, Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific and provide humanitarian assistance to civilians who are in harm’s way in theaters of conflict like Gaza, Haiti and the Sudan,” Hakeem Jeffries, the House Democratic leader, said on Friday. “House Democrats have once again cleared the way for legislation that is important to the American people.”

Much of the House Republican conference remains opposed to sending more money to Kyiv, and Donald Trump once again voiced frustration with approving additional Ukraine aid in a social media post on Thursday. Fifty-five Republicans and 39 Democrats opposed the procedural motion on Friday.

Johnson’s reliance on Democratic votes to pass key pieces of legislation, including a major government funding bill that cleared the House last month, has outraged some hard-right Republicans.

“What else did Johnson give away while he’s begging Democrats for votes and protection?” Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican representative from Georgia, said on Friday on X. “We do not have a Republican majority anymore, our Republican Speaker is literally controlled by the Democrats and giving them everything they want.”

Last month, Greene unveiled a motion to remove Johnson as speaker, although she has not yet moved to force a vote on the matter. In the past week, two more House Republicans – Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Paul Gosar of Arizona – have signed on as co-sponsors to Greene’s motion, citing their mounting frustration with Johnson’s leadership.

“We need a speaker who puts America first rather than bending to the reckless demands of the warmongers, neocons and the military-industrial complex making billions from a costly and endless war half a world away,” Gosar said in a statement on Friday.

If Greene moves forward with the motion to vacate, Johnson will once again need to rely on Democratic votes to save him, as Republicans will have just a one-seat majority after Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin resigns in the coming days. Several House Democrats have indicated that they would come to Johnson’s assistance if the motion to vacate is brought up for a vote, and the speaker has appeared undaunted by the threats to his job, which he has held for just six months.

“I’m going to do my job, and I’m going to stay dug in,” Johnson told radio host Mark Levin on Thursday. “I’m not changing who I am or what I believe, and I’m going to try to guide this institution.”

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