House Easily Passes Ukraine And Israel Aid

By The Hill
Posted on 04/20/24 | News Source: The Hill

The House on Saturday approved a series of bills providing tens of billions of dollars in foreign aid to embattled U.S. allies overseas, breaking a months-long impasse that bitterly divided Congress and sending the package along to the Senate.

The legislation — marrying military aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan with humanitarian assistance for Gaza — marked a victory for Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who had taken the politically risky step of bringing the proposals to the floor over the objection of hardline conservatives, several of whom want to boot him from power.

That decision has endeared the Speaker to Ukraine’s supporters in both parties, who argued the need for an aggressive strategy to help Kyiv’s beleaguered forces counter Russia’s imperial designs in Europe. 

But it’s heightened the tensions between Johnson and his right flank, which was already furious with the Speaker for his willingness to negotiate bipartisan deals with President Biden and felt betrayed that GOP leaders dropped demands for tougher border security.

Here are five takeaways from Saturday’s monumental votes. 

Ukraine, Israel, Gaza finally get their aid

The focus on the political machinations of moving the foreign aid package through Congress has, at times, overshadowed the situation on the ground in the hotspots where the new assistance is poised to flow.

Yet recent developments in those war-torn regions have fueled the urgency surrounding that aid on Capitol Hill, and in the end convinced Johnson that moving the aid — military and humanitarian alike — was worth the risk to his leadership perch.

In Ukraine, for instance, Kyiv’s defenders are running on threadbare weapons systems as Russian forces have made recent territorial advances — dynamics that led CIA Director Bill Burns to warn this week that Ukraine will lose the war by year’s end without additional U.S. support.

In Israel, recent strikes from Iran have highlighted the vulnerability of Tel Aviv’s position in a region hostile to its very existence. 

Taiwan is facing new threats to its sovereignty from a Chinese Communist Party that has long had imperial designs on its island neighbor and has been emboldened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

And in Gaza, where more than half the population consists of children, more than 34,000 people have been killed by Israeli forces as they seek to root out the Hamas terrorists who conducted the Oct. 7 massacre.  

The House-passed foreign aid package addresses each crisis, providing roughly $61 billion for Ukraine; $26 billion for Israel and humanitarian aid in Gaza and elsewhere; and $8 billion for Taiwan and other U.S. allies in the Indo-Pacific.

“We have a responsibility — not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans — to do what is necessary to defend democracy wherever it is at risk in the best interest of the free world,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said.