PoliticsTop StoryUS

House’s Ukraine, Israel aid PKG gains Biden’s support as Johnson fights to keep his job

President Joe Biden said Wednesday he strongly supports a proposal from Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson to provide aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, sending crucial bipartisan support to the precarious effort to approve $95 billion in funding for the U.S. allies this week.

Quick Read

  • Bipartisan Support: President Joe Biden expressed strong support for a bipartisan proposal initiated by Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, aimed at providing $95 billion in funding to support Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.
  • Strategic Funding Proposal: The aid package includes approximately $61 billion for Ukraine, $26 billion for Israel, and $8 billion for allies in the Indo-Pacific. This strategic allocation is intended to bolster the U.S. allies amidst ongoing geopolitical tensions.
  • Political Implications for Speaker Johnson: The proposal comes at a critical time for Speaker Johnson, who risks losing his position due to opposition from his party’s right flank. Despite the internal party challenges, Johnson has decided to push forward with the aid package.
  • Urgency and Legislative Process: Biden emphasized the urgency of passing the package, urging the House to approve it swiftly and the Senate to follow suit. The plan involves separate votes on different segments of the aid package along with other foreign policy proposals.
  • Complex Political Dynamics: The proposal’s passage is complicated by divisions within both parties, with progressive Democrats opposing parts of the funding intended for Israel’s military actions in Gaza, and some Republicans opposing foreign spending in general.
  • Conservative Opposition: Some conservative House members, like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Rep. Bob Good, have expressed strong opposition to Johnson’s leadership and the foreign aid package, arguing it prioritizes international interests over domestic concerns like border security.
  • Support for Speaker Johnson: Despite the challenges, Johnson has received backing from several Republican governors and conservative figures, emphasizing the importance of resolving internal disputes to focus on significant national and international issues.

The Associated Press has the story:

House’s Ukraine, Israel aid PKG gains Biden’s support as Johnson fights to keep his job

Newslooks- WASHINGTON (AP) —

President Joe Biden said Wednesday he strongly supports a proposal from Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson to provide aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, sending crucial bipartisan support to the precarious effort to approve $95 billion in funding for the U.S. allies this week.

Before potential weekend voting, Johnson was facing a choice between potentially losing his job and aiding Ukraine. He notified lawmakers earlier Wednesday that he would forge ahead despite growing anger from his right flank. Shortly after Johnson released the aid proposals, the Democratic president offered his emphatic support for the package.

“The House must pass the package this week, and the Senate should quickly follow,” Biden said. “I will sign this into law immediately to send a message to the world: We stand with our friends, and we won’t let Iran or Russia succeed.”

President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event at United Steelworkers Headquarters, Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Pittsburgh, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

After agonizing for days over how to proceed on the package, Johnson pushed ahead on a plan to hold votes on three funding packages — to provide about $61 billion for Ukraine, $26 billion for Israel and $8 billion to allies in the Indo-Pacific — as well as several other foreign policy proposals in a fourth bill. The plan roughly matches the amounts that the Senate has already approved.

The bulk of the money for Ukraine would go to purchasing weapons and ammunitions from U.S. defense manufacturers. Johnson is also proposing that $9 billion of economic assistance for Kyiv be structured as forgivable loans, along with greater oversight on military aid, but the decision to support Ukraine at all has angered populist conservatives in the House and given new energy to a threat to remove him from the speaker’s office.

Casting himself as a “Reagan Republican,” Johnson told reporters: “Look, history judges us for what we do. This is a critical time right now.”

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., arrives to discuss his proposal of sending crucial bipartisan support to aid Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan after weeks of inaction on Capitol Hill Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

The votes on the package are expected Saturday evening, Johnson said. But he faces a treacherous path to get there.

The speaker needs Democratic support on the procedural maneuvers to advance his complex plan of holding separate votes on each part of the aid package. Johnson is trying to squeeze the aid through the House’s political divisions on foreign policy by forming unique voting blocs for each issue, then sewing the package back together.

Under the plan, the House would also vote on bill that is a raft of foreign policy proposals. It includes legislation to allow the U.S. to seize frozen Russian central bank assets to rebuild Ukraine; to place sanctions on Iran, Russia, China and criminal organizations that traffic fentanyl; and to potentially ban the video app TikTok if its China-based owner doesn’t sell its stake within a year.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, the Democratic chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, said in a statement she was “very happy” that the House bill had extended the time period for ByteDance to sell TikTok. She had successfully pushed to extend the period from six months to a year, saying it would give the company enough time to find a buyer.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., center, flanked by Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., the Democratic whip, left, and Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., the Democratic Caucus chair, speaks to reporters about the need for aid to allies Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan following weeks of inaction, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said he planned to gather Democrats for a meeting Thursday morning to discuss the package “as a caucus, as a family, as a team.”

“Our topline commitment is ironclad,” he told reporters. “We are going to make sure we stand by our democratic allies in Ukraine, in Israel, in the Indo-Pacific and make sure we secure the humanitarian assistance necessary to surge into Gaza and other theaters of war throughout the world.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, pauses for reporters after a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus and Biden administration officials to discuss progress on an infrastructure bill, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The House proposal keeps intact roughly $9 billion in humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza and other conflict zones. However, progressive Democrats are opposed to providing Israel with money that could be used for its campaign into Gaza that has killed thousands of civilians.

“If they condition the offensive portion of the aid, that would be a conversation, but I can’t vote for more aid to go into Gaza and continue to kill people,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

FILE – Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., arrives for an interview in Laconia, N.H., Jan. 22, 2024. Social media accounts who shield their real identities have come to dominate right-wing political discussion online, even as they spread false information. When a user who uses a pseudonym on the social platform X made a claim against a government website, public figures including Greene immediately started raising alarm. In three days, the claim, which election officials explained was inaccurate, amassed more than 63 million views on X, according to the platform’s metrics. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Meanwhile, the threat to oust Johnson from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican of Georgia, gained steam this week. One other Republican, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, said he was joining Greene and called for Johnson to resign. Other GOP lawmakers have openly defied Johnson’s leadership.

“I want someone that will actually pursue a Republican agenda and knows how to walk in the room and negotiate and not get tossed around the room like some kind of party toy,” Greene said. But she added that she would not move on the motion to vacate Johnson as speaker before the vote on foreign aid.

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, speaks to reporters as he arrives for a House Republicans caucus meeting on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023 in Washington. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

In an effort to satisfy conservatives, Johnson offered to hold a separate vote on a border security bill, but conservatives rejected that as insufficient. Rep. Chip Roy of Texas called the strategy a “complete failure.”

“We’re going to borrow money that we don’t have — not to defend America, but to defend other nations. We’re going to do nothing to secure our border,” said Rep. Bob Good, the chair of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus.

With the speaker fighting for his job, his office went into overdrive trumpeting the support rolling in from Republican governors and conservative and religious leaders for keeping Johnson in office.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks to the attendees at the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce’s Pancakes and Policy Breakfast addressing recent events in the state and provided updates on matters such as the economy and public safety Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, in Athens, Ga. (Nell Carroll /Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

“Enough is enough,” said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on social media. He said “instead of bickering amongst themselves” the House Republicans should do their “job and vote on the important issues facing our nation.”

At the same time, the speaker’s office was tidying up after Johnson said on Fox News that he and Trump were “100% united” on the big agenda items, when in fact the Republican presidential nominee, who had just hosted the House leader in a show of support, opposes much overseas aid as well as a separate national security surveillance bill.

Johnson told CNN on Wednesday that he thought Trump, if elected president, would be “strong enough that he could enter the world stage to broker a peace deal” between Ukraine and Russia.

Yet Johnson’s push to pass the foreign aid comes as alarm grows in Washington at the deteriorating situation in Ukraine. Johnson, delaying an excruciating process, had waited for over two months to bring up the measure since the Senate passed it in February.

FILE – Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, speaks during a Republican news conference ahead of the State of the Union, March 1, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. A senior Republican lawmaker on Sunday criticized the Biden administration for not sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, as tensions simmer about whether China could send weapons to help Russia in the year-long war. McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, told ABC’s “This Week” that planes and long-range artillery could help end the war on a faster timeline. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

“Ukraine is on the verge of collapsing,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, the Republican chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In a hearing on Wednesday, Pentagon leaders testified that Ukraine and Israel both desperately need military weapons.

“We’re already seeing things on the battlefield begin to shift a bit in Russia’s favor,” said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

The House’s version of the aid bill pushes the Biden administration to provide long-range ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile Systems) to Ukraine, which could be used to target Russian supply lines.

The U.S. has resisted sending those weapons out of concerns Moscow would consider them escalatory, since they could reach deeper into Russia and Russian-held territory. The House legislation would also allow the president to decline to send the ATACMS if it is against national security interests, but Congress would have to be notified.

Still, there was acknowledgement in Washington that Johnson could soon be out as speaker — a job he has held less than five months since Rep. Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the office.

Rep. Don Bacon, a Nebraska Republican, said this week that if Johnson is ousted, he would “be known in history as the man who did the right thing even though it cost him a job.”

Read more U.S. news

Previous Article
Juror dismissed in hush money trial. Prosecutors ask for Trump to face contempt
Next Article
What’s inside the $95 billion House PKG focused on aiding Ukraine, Israel

How useful was this article?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this article.

Latest News