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US House Speaker in talks with White House over stalled Ukraine aid

US House Speaker Mike Johnson discusses a tailored Ukraine aid package with the White House, differing from the Senate’s version, AP source says.
US House Speaker Mike Johnson. Credit: AP
US House Speaker in talks with White House over stalled Ukraine aid
A top House Republican has revealed that after months of delay, the US House Speaker is negotiating with the White House on advancing a wartime funding package for Ukraine that deviates from the Senate’s $95 billion foreign security proposal by incorporating several Republican demands, according to the Associated Press, The Guardian says.

The US foreign aid package, including crucial military assistance for Ukraine, has been delayed since last fall by Republicans in Congress. The Senate passed a $95 billion bill, with over $60 billion for Ukraine, but House Speaker Mike Johnson refused to bring it to a vote, citing the need not to rush.

The House has not voted on the foreign aid bill, and Republicans are discussing possible amendments to the Senate’s proposal or drafting an entirely new bill. Should the House pass a different version, it would necessitate another round of Senate approval. This delay is critical as Ukraine faces severe ammunition shortages and the Biden administration warns of devastating consequences if the aid is not promptly approved.

As the House stalls on voting, Ukraine is forced to ration ammunition and supplies, giving Russia a chance to bolster its arsenal by purchasing missiles, drones, and artillery ammunition from Iran and North Korea. Additionally, Russia is exploiting Kyiv’s depleted air defenses and artillery to destroy Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and intensify front-line assaults.

“This becomes a more dangerous world with Russia in Kyiv,” said congressman Don Bacon, a Republican who supports aiding Ukraine, as per the Guardian. “So we’re just got to find a the smart way to get a bill passed that we can get out and back to the Senate.”

Speaker Johnson is under increasing pressure to advance a Ukraine aid package, facing criticism from President Joe Biden for Republican inaction and opposition from hard-right members of his conference who are staunchly against additional aid to Ukraine. In fact, Johnson can bring the Senate’s bill to the House floor anytime, but he refuses to do so.

AP says Mike Johnson is scheduled to meet former US president Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in Florida on 12 April, where Trump, advocating for a more isolationist US policy, has claimed he would negotiate an end to the Russo-Ukrainian war, with some sources claiming that he wants Ukraine to cede its occupied territories to Russia. Recently, Johnson has reportedly sought Trump’s support on the Ukraine funding, aiming to at least prevent him from publicly opposing the package.

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