House approves aid for Ukraine, Israel after bitter battle

Source: The Hill | April 20, 2024 | Mike Lillis and Mychael Schnell

House lawmakers in both parties joined forces Saturday to send a massive package of foreign aid to the Senate, ending a long and bitter stalemate over the fate of the legislation and all but ensuring the delivery of billions of dollars in new help to embattled allies across the globe.

The rare weekend votes were the culmination of months of fierce debate within the House GOP conference over how — or even if — Congress should step in with another round of military help for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan while providing humanitarian aid for civilian victims in Gaza and other war-torn regions around the globe.

The debate had split House Republicans into warring factions, pitting Reagan-minded traditionalists — who support strong interventions overseas to counter the imperial designs of Russia and China — against a newer brand of “America First” conservative who fought to limit the foreign spending and focus instead on domestic problems, particularly the migrant crisis at the southern border. 

In the end, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) defied his conservative critics, pushing to the floor a series of four bills providing the overseas assistance but detaching those funds from a separate border security bill, which failed on the floor during Saturday’s votes. He framed the aid as a simple, but crucial, continuation of America’s responsibility to democratic allies under siege from despots.

“I think providing lethal aid to Ukraine right now is critically important,” Johnson said this week. “I really do believe the intel and the briefings that we’ve gotten. I believe Xi and Vladimir Putin and Iran really are an axis of evil.”

“To put it bluntly, I would rather send bullets to Ukraine than American boys,” he added. “My son is gonna begin in the Naval Academy this fall, this is a live-fire exercise for me as it is so many American families. This is not a game. It’s not a joke. We can’t play politics with this, we have to do the right thing.”


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