US House sets long-awaited vote on aid for Ukraine and Israel

Hardline Republicans have threatened to try to oust speaker Mike Johnson if vote on aid packages goes ahead

The US House of Representatives will have its long-awaited vote on aid for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific as soon as Saturday, Republican speaker Mike Johnson said on Wednesday, more than two months after a similar package passed the Senate.

The House appropriations committee unveiled legislation providing more than $95 billion (€89 billion) in security assistance, including $60.84 billion to address the conflict in Ukraine and assist regional partners as they handle Russia’s invasion, of which $23.2 billion would be used to replenish US weapons, stocks and facilities.

The Israel Bill totals $26.38 billion, for Israel and funds to cover the cost of US military operations in response to recent attacks. The Indo-Pacific measure totals $8.12 billion.

After weeks of uncertainty about whether Republican House leaders would let members vote on the aid, Mr Johnson said on Monday he had decided to break up the Senate’s $95 billion Bill into separate pieces.


And on Wednesday, after intense pressure from hardliners who oppose the spending plan, he began releasing the text of the Bills, with a vote on final passage planned for Saturday evening, to provide time for debate and amendment.

The Democratic-controlled Senate passed its assistance Bill with a solid 70 per cent bipartisan majority in February, and backers of the package had said it would pass the House by a similar margin if Mr Johnson allowed a vote.

Republican leaders of House security committees have said they support Mr Johnson’s plan.

Democratic support is essential, given the slim Republican majority in the House and opposition from far-right Republicans to further aid.

The plan got an important boost when Rosa DeLauro, the top Democrat on the House appropriations panel, announced her support for the three security funding Bills. “We finally have a path forward to provide support for our allies and desperately needed humanitarian aid,” she said in a statement.

The Senate Bill faced fierce opposition from the most conservative lawmakers – many allied with former president Donald Trump, who has been a Ukraine aid sceptic and hopes to win back the White House in November.

At least two of the most conservative House members had threatened to try to oust Mr Johnson as speaker if he went ahead.

There are also objections to the package from some on the left, with some Democrats concerned about sending more money to Israel as it maintains its offensive on Gaza in response to the Hamas-led attack on October 7th. Opponents say there should be tighter controls on US weapons and taxpayer dollars, given the devastating toll on civilians in the coastal strip.

In a text message to House members, Mr Johnson said the House rules committee would post a fourth national security measure on Wednesday, including the Repo Act, House TikTok Bill and sanctions.

The Repo Act would set the stage for the confiscation of Russian assets to be handed over to Ukraine. And the US House in March passed a Bill that would give the short video app TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance about six months to divest US assets or face a ban.

And Mr Johnson promised a text of a separate border security Bill. Immigration is a top concern for conservative voters ahead of elections on November 5th that will decide control of the White House and Congress, and some Republicans have insisted they would not back foreign aid without more funding for security at the US frontier with Mexico. – Reuters