House to vote on aid bills for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan

Washington — The House is set to vote Saturday afternoon on a $95 billion foreign aid package, a pivotal moment for House Speaker Mike Johnson as he tries to stave off a right-wing rebellion. 

The package consists of four bills that will be voted on separately and then combined into one before being sent to the Senate. The first three bills include $60.8 billion to help Ukraine in its war with Russia; $26.4 billion to support Israel, which is fighting Hamas and Iran; and $8.1 billion to counter China in the Indo-Pacific. Humanitarian aid for Gaza, which Democrats said was necessary for their support, is also included. 

The fourth bill would allow the sale of frozen assets of Russian oligarchs to help fund future aid to Ukraine, potentially force the sale of TikTok and authorize stricter sanctions on Russia, China and Iran. 

The speaker said separating the bills will allow members to vote their “conscience” on each one. 

Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, unveiled the package earlier this week amid increasing pressure from other congressional leaders and the White House to hold a vote on a similar $95 billion package that passed the Senate in February. The Senate package has sat idle in the House for months as the speaker debated a path forward, and as he has faced threats from a small number of Republicans, who oppose sending more aid to Ukraine and want border measures, to hold a vote on dethroning him. 

“This is the best possible product that we can get under these circumstances, to take care of these really important obligations,” Johnson said Friday. 

He said that if he hadn’t moved forward with his plan, an effort to bypass him and force a vote on the Senate bill would have gained more support. House Democrats tried to use a rarely successful legislative maneuver known as a discharge petition to do just that, but are short of the 218 signatures needed.

“We would have had to eat the Senate supplemental bill,” Johnson said. 

The effort to oust Johnson had three Republican backers as of Friday afternoon: Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Paul Gosar of Arizona. Gosar announced his support after more Democrats than Republicans on Friday voted to advance the package, setting it up for final passage on Saturday. 

The rebellion puts Johnson’s job at risk if Democrats don’t step in to save him if the group of hardliners forces a vote. But Greene hasn’t given a timeline for if and when she plans to force a vote. 

Johnson has stood behind his decision to bring up Ukraine aid for a vote. Citing classified briefings he’s received, Johnson called the aid “critically important” in pushing back on Russian aggression. 

“If I operated out of fear over a motion to vacate, I would never be able to do my job,” Johnson said earlier this week. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said Friday the upper chamber would “move expeditiously” to send the package to President Biden, who has said he will sign it. 

Jaala Brown and Ellis Kim contributed reporting. 

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