US House passes $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan

Washington — The U.S. House of Representatives on Saturday passed with bipartisan support a four-part, $95 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, putting the legislation on track for enactment following a long, difficult path through Congress.  

The legislation includes $61 billion for Kyiv’s ongoing war against Moscow’s invasion, as well as $26 billion for Israel and humanitarian aid for civilians in conflict zones, including Gaza, and $8 billion for the Indo-Pacific region.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana, structured the bills so that they can be combined into one after each bill is approved, to prevent opposition to any one piece from derailing the entire deal.

“Today, members of both parties in the House voted to advance our national security interests and send a clear message about the power of American leadership on the world stage. At this critical inflection point, they came together to answer history’s call, passing urgently needed national security legislation that I have fought for months to secure,” President Joe Biden said in a statement Saturday. 

“I urge the Senate to quickly send this package to my desk so that I can sign it into law, and we can quickly send weapons and equipment to Ukraine to meet their urgent battlefield needs,” he noted. 

The Democratic-majority Senate is to take up the legislation early next week and then send it to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.  

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, confirmed in a statement on Saturday that the Senate would “finish work on the supplemental with the first vote on Tuesday afternoon.”

“To our friends in Ukraine, to our allies in NATO, to our allies in Israel, and to civilians around the world in need of aid: rest assured America will deliver yet again,” he added.

The bill imposing new limits on the social media platform TikTok was the first of the four measures to pass Saturday, with a vote of 360-58. That measure requires Bytedance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, to sell its stake within a year or face a ban in the United States. It would also allow the president to level new sanctions against Russia and Iran.  

The second bill, which passed with a bipartisan majority of 385-34 votes, provided billions in aid to the Indo-Pacific region. The $8 billion bill is intended to counter China through investing in submarine infrastructure and helping Taiwan through military financing. 

The third bill to pass was a significant aid package — $61 billion — for Ukraine in its ongoing war against Russia. The bill passed with a vote of 311-112.  

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Congress for the passage of the aid bill. 

“I am grateful to the United States House of Representatives, both parties, and personally Speaker Mike Johnson for the decision that keeps history on the right track,” Zelenskyy wrote in a post on X.

The bill has important implications not just for Ukraine but for all of Europe, according to Steven Moore, founder of the Ukraine Freedom Project, which delivers humanitarian and military aid to the front lines. 

“[Russian President] Vladimir Putin has made it clear that if he takes Ukraine, then NATO countries are next,” he told VOA. “This is not just about Ukraine. This is about standing up to a terrible human being who wants to subjugate the rest of Europe.” 

“This sends a message to Vladimir Putin, to Iran, to North Korea, and to China, that we are not abdicating our role as a leader in the world,” added Moore, who is

based in Kyiv.  

The bill’s passage in the House comes after a monthslong Republican effort to block additional aid to Ukraine.  

“The Republican leadership, I think, delayed this unnecessarily,” Representative Adam Smith, a Democrat from Washington state, told VOA’s Ukrainian service on Saturday.  

Smith said he expected the aid to be delivered to Ukraine “almost immediately” once the legislation is passed by the Senate and signed by President Biden.  

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Saturday that U.S. legislation providing military aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan would “deepen crisis throughout the world.”

The final measure to pass Saturday was a $26 billion aid package for Israel, including $9.1 billion for humanitarian needs.  

Biden reaffirmed support for the aid package earlier this week.  

“Israel is facing unprecedented attacks from Iran, and Ukraine is facing continued bombardment from Russia that has intensified dramatically in the last month,” he said in a statement.  

“The House must pass the package this week and the Senate should quickly follow,” Biden added. “I will sign this into law immediately to send a message to the world: We stand with our friends, and we won’t let Iran or Russia succeed.”  

The weekend votes follow a rare show of bipartisanship Friday, when a coalition of lawmakers in the House helped the foreign aid package clear a procedural hurdle to advance the four-part legislation. That Friday vote passed 316-94.  

Johnson went ahead with the vote despite strong opposition from some factions of his party.  

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia threatened to try to force a vote to oust Johnson from the speakership if he went ahead with the Ukraine aid vote. Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky has also called for Johnson to resign. 

Still, other members of the Republican Party support Johnson and the aid package. 

“You’re never going to agree with every little aspect of legislation. There’s always going to be things you may quibble with, but the reality is that we need to get aid to our allies,” Representative Mike Lawler, a Republican from New York, told VOA’s Ukrainian service.  

“The time for debate and discussion over this has long passed, and the time for action is here,” he said.  

VOA’s Kateryna Lisunova contributed to this report. Some information came from Reuters, the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.

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