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Sat. May 25th, 2024

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a comprehensive $95 billion foreign aid package on Saturday, marking a significant moment for House Speaker Mike Johnson, who faces pressure from conservative factions within his party. The package, aimed at supporting Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, was approved through a series of separate votes on four individual bills. The approval reflects ongoing U.S. commitments to global security and humanitarian aid.

The package includes $60.8 billion designated to assist Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia, $26.4 billion to support Israel in its conflict with Hamas and Iran, and $8.1 billion to counter China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region. Humanitarian aid for Gaza, a critical point for Democratic support, is also part of the package, signaling bipartisan commitment to addressing the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East.

In addition to funding military and humanitarian efforts, the fourth bill in the package allows for the sale of frozen assets from Russian oligarchs to fund future aid to Ukraine. It also empowers the government to potentially force the sale of TikTok and implement stricter sanctions against Russia, China, and Iran. The House approved this bill with a decisive 360 to 58 vote, reflecting a broad consensus on the need for stricter measures against these nations.

The approval of these aid bills comes amid a tense political climate. The votes on individual bills revealed varying levels of support among lawmakers. While the bills supporting Israel and Indo-Pacific allies passed with overwhelming majorities, the vote on Ukraine aid was more contentious, with 311 votes in favor and 112 against, indicating a rift within the Republican Party. The right-wing faction’s resistance to additional Ukraine aid poses a challenge to Speaker Johnson’s leadership.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed optimism about the Senate’s ability to approve the package quickly, with the first vote scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. Schumer acknowledged the efforts of both House Speaker Johnson and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries in facilitating bipartisan cooperation on the aid package. This unified approach is crucial in ensuring that the U.S. continues to support its allies in the face of international conflicts and humanitarian crises.

Speaker Johnson, who had faced mounting pressure from within his party, emphasized the importance of allowing members to vote according to their conscience. His strategy to split the package into separate bills allowed for broader support while addressing concerns from right-wing members. However, his leadership remains under threat, with three Republican representatives—Marjorie Taylor Greene, Thomas Massie, and Paul Gosar—openly supporting a motion to vacate his position. Despite this challenge, Johnson stood firm, stating that his decisions were based on what he believed to be the right course of action for the House and the country.

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