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House passes $95.3B aid package for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan

Long-stalled package goes to the Senate, which is expected to clear it next week

Saturday's vote marks a win for Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., who nonetheless faces an existential threat to his job.
Saturday's vote marks a win for Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., who nonetheless faces an existential threat to his job. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Six months after President Joe Biden first asked for it, the House passed a tweaked version of his emergency aid package for key U.S. allies with strong bipartisan support, sending it back to the Senate for a final vote.

The $95.3 billion supplemental spending measure passed under an unusual procedure in which lawmakers voted on four separate bills that were then put together into one vehicle, replacing the text of a similar Senate-passed bill that came over from that chamber two months ago.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said a final vote could occur as soon as Tuesday, which would deliver it to Biden’s desk for his signature.

The largest piece, $60.8 billion for Ukraine, passed on a 311-112 vote after lawmakers from both sides of the aisle turned aside GOP amendments intended to gut that bill, including one from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., to strike every dollar from the package. 

The $26.4 billion package of aid to Israel and humanitarian aid to Gaza and other conflict zones passed on a 366-58 vote; an $8.1 billion measure to help Taiwan and other Indo-Pacific allies like the Philippines also received strong support, 385-34.

Lastly, the House voted 360-58 to pass a “sidecar” package consisting of some measures related to the foreign aid bills, such as authorizing the seizure of about $5 billion in frozen Russian assets for distribution to Ukraine and toughening sanctions on Russia, Iran and China.

That measure would also force the divestiture of Chinese-owned TikTok or the social media app would be banned in the U.S., and ban data brokers from selling Americans’ personal information to countries such as China, Russia, Iran and North Korea or organizations controlled by those governments.

After the House voted, senators reached an agreement to hold two procedural votes at 1 p.m. Tuesday involving the package. One, by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, or a designee, would table a pending related amendment. The other would start the Senate on a path toward clearing the aid measure.

‘Blood and murder’

In the end, the four votes reflected bipartisan support for paying the price of continued U.S. engagement abroad, despite vocal misgivings about it from some on the right and others on the left. 

The most heated debate came over aid to Ukraine, with Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., allowing votes on three amendments to cut funding in that package, including the proposal from his chief GOP critic. Greene, who is backing a motion to oust the speaker, gave voice during Saturday’s floor debate to the populist and isolationist strain in the GOP.

“[Americans] don’t support a business model built on blood and murder and war in foreign countries while this very government does nothing to secure our borders,” she said. “America last. That’s all this is. Every single day, America last.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., pushed back against Greene and other critics of the long-stalled package.

“For months, the national security priorities of the American people have been obstructed by pro-Putin extremists determined to let Russia win,” Jeffries said. “A bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republicans has risen up to work together and ensure that we are getting the national security legislation important to the American people over the finish line.”

Reflecting the deep divisions among their constituents — 61 percent of Republicans in a CBS-YouGov poll earlier this month said they opposed more aid to Ukraine — House GOP lawmakers rejected the package by a margin of 101-112, with one voting present.

Greene’s amendment was defeated on a 71-351 vote; all 71 votes in favor were Republicans, with 139 GOP lawmakers opposed.

In one key difference from the Senate-passed bill, over $9 billion in economic aid to Ukraine is structured as a loan, though the president could waive the repayment requirement unless Congress votes to block such waivers. That wasn’t enough to tamp down criticism from some in the House GOP.

An amendment from Ukrainian-born Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., would have struck economic and budgetary support for Ukraine while preventing the president from drawing down billions of dollars worth of additional U.S. weapons stocks to send to Kyiv. It was defeated on a 105-319 vote, with Republicans breaking almost evenly for and against that amendment.

Another amendment, from Kat Cammack, R-Fla., to strip $10.5 billion in nonmilitary assistance to Ukraine, drew stronger GOP support with 154 votes in favor and only 59 opposed, but it still fell on a 154-272 vote.

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said the House’s decisions Saturday echoed those that confronted America and Europe ahead of World War II. 

“Our adversaries are watching us here today, and history will judge us on our actions here today,” McCaul said. “So as we deliberate on this vote, you have to ask yourself: Am I Chamberlain or am I Churchill?”

Democrats waved Ukrainian flags in the chamber as the vote took place and erupted with applause on passage, drawing a scolding from the chair for not maintaining decorum.

Israel, Gaza aid debate

Under the rule for floor debate, there were no amendments allowed on the Israel aid bill. 

A few critics came to the floor to discuss it however, such as Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., who took issue with the nearly $9.2 billion in humanitarian aid that he said would be delivered to Palestinians in Gaza. 

“Why would we knowingly be sending money into the hands of Hamas in any bill?” Clyde said during debate.

The bill would impose strict requirements on the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development to certify that none of the humanitarian aid funds are diverted to Hamas. The bill also would prevent any of the money from being transferred to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, where staffers have been accused of collaborating with Hamas in the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.

Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, countered that he received information from the Biden administration on its intent for that piece of the package, which is not specified in the text of the bill. The administration told Sherman that in addition to aiding Gazans, the money would also be distributed to assist with humanitarian crises in Haiti, Sudan, Ethiopia, Congo, Armenia and Myanmar.

“This bill will save hundreds of thousands, I believe millions of lives,” Sherman said.

The Israel package includes nearly $10 billion for developing or producing U.S. or Israeli-made weapons, including anti-missile and anti-rocket systems, as well as billions of dollars more to replenish U.S. stocks that have been drawn down to help Israel and to bankroll U.S. military operations in the region. 

On the left, Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., expressed concern over Israel’s conduct of the war under the Netanyahu government. “If he’s not listening to us on matters of international security, how can he be trusted with more offensive weapons?” Pocan said.

On final passage of the Israel-focused bill, 37 Democrats and 21 Republicans opposed it.

The $8.1 billion Indo-Pacific bill, meanwhile, would include nearly $4 billion in security assistance to Taiwan and other regional allies, along with $1.9 billion to replenish U.S. stocks that have been reduced to help Asian allies, plus $3.3 billion for submarine infrastructure and more.  One amendment adopted during debate would express support for ensuring security assistance in the bill gets to the Philippines.

On the separate miscellaneous package of sanctions and other related measures, two amendments were adopted.

One amendment, by Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., adopted by voice vote, would mandate new details in the Pentagon’s annual report on China’s military power.

The other is from Rep. Zach Nunn, R-Iowa, who faces a potentially tight reelection battle this fall. Nunn’s amendment would require the Treasury Department to provide Congress information about the wealth of government officials and others in Iran who are under U.S. sanctions. The vote was 249-167 on the amendment from Nunn, whose race Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates Tilt Republican.  

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