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UK House Speaker Johnson moving forward with Ukraine aid bill despite GOP hardliner opposition

US House Speaker Mike Johnson, endorsed by President Biden, advances separate foreign aid bills, including for Ukraine, despite strong opposition from far-right Republicans.
US House Speaker Mike Johnson. Photo: CNN
UK House Speaker Johnson moving forward with Ukraine aid bill despite GOP hardliner opposition

On 17 April, US House Speaker Mike Johnson confirmed his commitment to advancing a series of foreign aid bills, including funding for Ukraine, despite facing considerable pressure from hardline fellow Republicans, according to CNN.

For more than six months, US Congressional Republicans have been blocking the US foreign aid package, which includes military assistance to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. The Senate approved a $95 billion bill in February, including over $60 billion for Ukraine, but House Speaker Mike Johnson has delayed bringing it to a vote, citing the need not to rush. Yesterday, Johnson announced separate bills with the vote scheduled for 20 April.

Advancing the bills, Mike Johnson said:

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 said in the note, as per CNN.

CNN reports that the three-part supplemental package mirrors the Senate’s bill, including over $9 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza and other global conflict zones, crucial for Democrats.

When CNN asked why the foreign aid packages weren’t split months ago, despite Ukraine’s desperate need for military support, Johnson claimed that it takes “a long time to socialize and build consensus when you have the smallest majority in US history.”

Earlier this month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy cautioned that if the US Congress fails to approve military aid, Ukraine could risk losing the war against the Russian invasion.

The potential for right-wing GOP members to oust Speaker Mike Johnson over foreign aid bills is creating significant pressure on his leadership. On April 16, Rep. Thomas Massie supported Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s motion to remove Johnson, who firmly stated he would not resign. This situation follows Johnson’s meeting with former President Donald Trump, who suggested that US foreign aid should be structured as loans, a policy Johnson has since pursued, earning Trump’s endorsement during a challenging time in his speakership.

Peer Republican pressure on Johnson

The potential for right-wing GOP members to oust Speaker Mike Johnson over foreign aid bills is creating significant pressure on his leadership. On April 16, Rep. Thomas Massie supported Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s motion to remove Johnson as the House Speaker, who firmly stated he would not resign.

This situation follows Johnson’s meeting with former President Donald Trump last meeting, who suggested that US foreign aid should be structured as loans, a policy Johnson has since pursued, earning Trump’s endorsement during a challenging time in his speakership, as per CNN.

Biden’s support for bills

On 15 April, the White House firmly opposed any standalone Israel aid bill, urging the inclusion of aid for Ukraine and Taiwan in a comprehensive $95 billion package, citing potential delays in needed aid if passed separately.

In February, when the House was considering a separate Israel aid bill, US President Biden threatened to veto it and rallied Democrats to defeat the proposal successfully. But on 17 April, Biden expressed support for Speaker Johnson’s separate bills that propose additional funding for Ukraine, Israel, and US allies in the Indo-Pacific region.

What’s in Ukraine aid bill

According to a release from the House Appropriations Committee, the bill will allocate $61 billion to Ukraine and regional partners, with $23 billion designated for replenishing US stockpiles. Additionally, it includes $26 billion for Israel and $8 billion for the Indo-Pacific.

Totaling $95 billion, the package makes $10 billion of Ukraine’s economic aid aimed at supporting Ukraine’s government into a repayable loan. These loans would require a repayment agreement with Kyiv, though the administration may choose to cancel the debt, a CNN source informed.

The text of the separate Ukraine aid bill includes the following key provisions:

  • $23 billion to replenish US military stockpiles, supporting potential military assistance to Ukraine.
  • $1.6 billion in Foreign Military Financing grants for Ukraine to procure weapons directly.
  • $7.85 billion in conditional loans for Ukraine until September 2025, with restrictions on pension payments.
  • Requirement for expedited transfer of long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine, with presidential authority to delay for national security concerns.
  • Option for the president to forgive 50% of the loan debt after November 2025 and 100% starting January 2026, subject to Congressional approval.
  • Mandates for regular reports to Congress on military aid, weapon tracking, and a multi-year strategy for supporting Ukraine.

Passing new bills instead of the Senate-approved legislation would require Senate re-approval following the House vote, which means further delay of the Ukraine aid.

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