Ukraine and Israel aid packages head for House vote in defiance of GOP far right

Democrats stepped up for the Republican speaker’s foreign aid bills

Gustaf Kilander
Washington DC
Friday 19 April 2024 18:41 BST
Related video: Massive foreign aid bill surrounded by drama

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to advance a large foreign aid package to a final debate and floor vote on Saturday.

A bipartisan majority voted to move ahead with four bills that will send aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, as well as place fresh sanctions on Iran, seize Russian assets, and possibly ban TikTok in the US.

The vote to advance the foreign aid package comes after several days of GOP infighting among the party’s far-right and more moderate members who oppose any further aid to Ukraine.

Mr Johnson pushed ahead with the aid package over the objection of his party’s rightwing who are threatening to oust him from his position, led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Reps Thomas Massie and Paul Gosar have also joined her bid.

Getting past the procedural step on Friday was a massive step forward in the Biden administration’s effort to fund Ukraine’s war as it struggles to hold back Russian attacks.

House Speaker Mike Johnson walks towards the House Chamber on Capitol Hill on Friday (Getty Images)

The foreign aid package passed the procedural hurdle by a margin of 316-94 in the House on Friday morning.

A total of 165 Democrats chose to back the rule put forward by Republican Speaker Mike Johnson – 151 members of his own party also voted in favour.

Thirty-nine Democrats and 55 Republicans voted against the measure.

On Thursday night, all Democrats on the Rules Committee voted to bring the rule to the floor, stepping in to bail out the speaker. Three rightwing Republicans, Chip Roy, Ralph Norman, and Thomas Massie, voted against.

Hardright Republicans blasted the speaker on Friday.

“The question everyone should be asking is what deal did Speaker Johnson make with the Hakeem Jeffries to get the Democrats on the Rules Committee to vote for a Republican rule on the foreign war package which includes $60+ BILLION more to Ukraine? This never happens,” Georgia Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene wrote on X before the vote.

“We do not have a Republican majority anymore, our Republican Speaker is literally controlled by the Democrats and giving them everything they want,” she added.

Marjorie Taylor Greene departs Capitol Hill following a vote on Friday (Getty Images)

Florida Rep Matt Gaetz posted: “The last time the Democrats carried a Republican Speaker over the line on a Rule vote was McCarthy’s bad debt limit deal. Shouldn’t have happened then. Shouldn’t happen today.”

The Ukraine aid efforts have stalled for months. The progress on the package comes as CIA Director Bill Burns issued a strong warning, saying that the future of the war effort looks “dire” if the package doesn’t pass, according to Politico.

Speaking at an event at the George W Bush Presidential Center, he said: “There is a very real risk that the Ukrainians could lose on the battlefield by the end of 2024, or at least put Putin in a position where he could essentially dictate the terms of a political settlement.”

The House will vote on Saturday but Friday’s vote suggested that the $95bn foreign aid package has the support needed to pass.

Votes on rules for considering bills tend to be party-line affairs, but on Friday, more Democrats than Republicans ended up in support.

But it also revealed that a majority of House Republicans are in support of foreign aid amid pushback from conservative hardliners.

Former president Donald Trump, who heavily influences the GOP’s right wing, blasted the idea of further US aid to Ukraine on Truth Social on Thursday.

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