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17 Apr, 2024 15:58

US House speaker reveals details of new Ukraine plan

Legislators will vote on the aid bill this Saturday, according to Mike Johnson
US House speaker reveals details of new Ukraine plan

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Mike Johnson announced on Wednesday that he is sticking with his plan to send a series of foreign aid bills to the floor, including those for funding for Ukraine and Israel. Johnson said in a note to legislators that they'll vote on these on Saturday evening.

Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana, has faced mounting pressure to act on President Joe Biden’s long-delayed request for billions of dollars in security assistance. It’s been more than two months since the Senate passed a $95-billion aid package, which includes $14 billion for Israel and $60 billion for Ukraine.

Despite opposition from conservatives over aiding Ukraine, Johnson said earlier this week that he would push to get the package to the House floor under a single debate rule, then hold separate votes on proposed aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, as well as several foreign-policy proposals, according to Republican lawmakers.

“After significant Member feedback and discussion, the House Rules Committee will be posting soon today the text of three bills that will fund America’s national security interests and allies in Israel, the Indo-Pacific, and Ukraine, including a loan structure for aid, and enhanced strategy and accountability,” Johnson wrote on Wednesday.

He added that these will be brought to the floor, alongside a fourth bill that includes the REPO Act, TikTok bill, sanctions and other measures “to confront Russia, China, and Iran.”

“By posting text of these bills as soon as they are completed, we will ensure time for a robust amendment process. We expect the vote on final passage on these bills to be on Saturday evening,” Johnson wrote.

He had recently indicated that he'd support sending more money to Kiev if it were a loan rather than a grant. This week, additional pressure was put on him after Iran’s retaliatory strike on Israel, which West Jerusalem claims to have stopped with help from the US.

Meanwhile, moderate New York Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis urged on Wednesday that the Speaker “go back to Biden & [NY Senator Chuck] Schumer and tell them he needs a border security measure to pass foreign aid.” Johnson said in the letter to his fellow members of Congress that he will bring forward an immigration bill that looks like the House’s HR 2.

During the GOP meeting this week, the speaker reportedly warned hardcore opponents of Ukraine aid that an alternative to his plan would be for Democrats to force a vote on the Senate bill through procedural maneuvers. Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky reportedly urged Johnson to resign.

The previous House speaker, California’s Kevin McCarthy, was ousted from the position by his fellow Republicans for alleged backroom dealing with Democrats on Ukraine.

Proponents of funneling more money to Kiev have been touting the aid to increasingly skeptical American voters, stating that most of the funds would be spent at home to bolster defense manufacturing.