House passes aid for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan after months of Republican infighting

House passes aid for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan after months of Republican infighting
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WASHINGTON – The House approved a set of long-awaited foreign aid bills on Saturday that would send funds to Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific region after months of it being stalled by Republican infighting.

Passage of the bills also could cost Speaker Mike Johnson his leadership position and status as second in line to the presidency.

The bills mostly mirror an earlier foreign aid package the Senate passed earlier this year. But this one is broken up into pieces as an attempt by Johnson, R-La., to appease his conference by allowing GOP lawmakers to pick and choose what aspects of the bill they support.

Johnson’s foreign aid plan includes three bills that separately fund Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific region, along with a fourth bill that includes various GOP-backed foreign policy priorities as a sweetener to entice Republicans to back the proposal. Those provisions would include seizing frozen Russian assets to fund the Ukrainian war effort along with legislation that could result in a nationwide ban on the popular social media app, TikTok.

All bills passed the House on a bipartisan basis, but the legislation funding Ukraine proved to be the most contentious as continued U.S. support for Kyiv continues to fall among the House GOP ranks. The House passed the bill providing roughly $60 billion in Ukraine by a vote of 311-112.

The Israel bill also proved to be problematic among progressive Democrats who have called for conditioning aid to the country over its conduct in the war-torn Gaza strip as international aid organizations warn of incoming famine in the territory. Lawmakers approved more than $26 billion in Israel funding and humanitarian assistance in the region by a vote of 366-58.

Aid to the Indo-Pacific region aimed at deterring China was far less controversial and lawmakers passed about $8 billion to the region by a vote of 385-34. The sweetener bill also passed by a vote of 360-58.


House passes aid for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan after months of Republican infighting
House passes aid for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan after months of Republican infighting


House passes aid for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan after months of Republican infighting

All four bills will be compiled together into one package to send to the Senate, where it is expected to approve the legislation as well. President Joe Biden has also vowed to sign the package “immediately to send a message to the world: We stand with our friends, and we won’t let Iran or Russia succeed.”

The final package was a long time coming and came together after months of dithering by Johnson, who was under intense pressure by leaders from both sides of the aisle to advance foreign aid. At first, Johnson sided with ultraconservative lawmakers who insisted that any assistance abroad must be paired with significant changes to border and immigration policy to address the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

But in recent days, the speaker appears to have shifted in his views of foreign aid, delivering remarks to reporters on Wednesday about the urgent need for the U.S. to show support for it’s allies.

“Providing lethal aid to Ukraine right now is critically important. I really do. I really do believe the intel in the briefings that we’ve gotten. I believe Xi (Jinping) and Vladimir Putin and Iran really are an axis of evil. I think they’re in coordination on this. I think that Vladimir Putin would continue to march through Europe if he were allowed,” Johnson said.

“To put it bluntly, I would rather send bullets to Ukraine than American boys,” Johnson continued, adding his son is entering the U.S. Naval Academy this fall. “This is a live-fire exercise for me as it is so many American families. This is not a game. This is not a joke.”

Passage of the foreign aid package also appears like it will leave Johnson’s speakership in peril. Conservative firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., along with two other Republicans, are seeking to oust the speaker for working with Democrats to pass legislation. Greene has declined to offer a timeline for when she would move to remove the speaker, but has previously suggested she would do so the moment the House passes Ukraine aid.

Regardless, Johnson said his “philosophy is you do the right thing and you let the chips fall where they may” and that he was “willing to take personal risk” for his job if it meant Congress could pass foreign aid.

A small group of bipartisan negotiators in the Senate cobbled together a foreign aid package that did include sweeping changes in border and immigration policy that looked ready to clear the upper chamber earlier this year, but at the behest of former President Donald Trump who opposed the bill, congressional Republicans ultimately killed the deal despite it including significant overhauls to the border.

The Senate later passed the foreign aid package completely stripped of changes in border policy and as months went by, Senate leaders from both parties called on Johnson to pass the deal immediately.

The speaker ultimately opted to split the bill into several different components with slight modifications to win Republican support, including converting direct financial assistance to Ukraine as a loan that can eventually be forgiven by the U.S.

In an attempt to placate the hard-right who were incensed by the speaker’s decision, a fifth bill that resembled a strict partisan bill Republicans passed last year to address the southern border – referred to as H.R. 2 – was offered a vote on the floor, but failed to garner the support necessary to pass. Conservatives derided the bill which appeared to be a peace offering as an attempt from the speaker to save face.

What happens next in the lower chamber is uncertain, as House lawmakers leave Washington for a week-long recess right after passing the foreign aid package on Saturday. Once they return to Capitol Hill, Johnson is expected to enter a political fight for his life as Greene, backed by other conservatives, threaten to supplant him.

Aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan


The idealist proposition that states always seek the absolute moral good offers differing predictions for each of these cases. For Ukraine, the end of the Cold War brought an ongoing growth in US economic aid supposedly to help the country establish stable and democratic political systems. For example, in 1993, the US extended Ukraine $311 million in economic support (OECD 1996, p. 482).

High-level US officials justified granting this aid “as a matter of US national interest with implications for regional stability and security in Europe” (Makarenko 1999, p. 71). Other US economic aid to Ukraine has come in the shape of loans, totaling $571 taken from 1991-2000, and human AID, twelve Ukrainian health and human services projects ($1.2 billion in 1993-99) and as can be presumed from using the USAID service. While I could find no further specific information on further US aid to Ukraine, it is clear that there has been an increase in US aid to Ukrainian causes since the end of the Cold War. This aid has been a mix of humanitarian transitional forcibly stripped resource from uses help the needy, to try and further US interests by building a Ukraine that is pro-Western in values and in practice.

Since the demise of the Soviet Union, however, each of these states has lost its strategic significance for the USA. With a realist proposition that all states pursue their interests, and no other states will help another state unconditionally (Rathmel 1992, p. 209; Morgenthau 1973), we would once again predict low levels of aid for all three cases, the interest being too low for the USA to offset the ‘costs’ involved (harming other alliances, using resources that could be spent at home) by ‘buying influence’ with aid.

We begin our examination of non-traditional aid donors and recipients with a trio of case studies absent from previous analyses on aid – Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. In each of these cases, a utilitarian-realist model would have predicted minimal levels of aid. Because each state was important strategically within the Cold War context (notably Ukraine, for its agricultural productivity, food stocks, and warm water ports), our neo-realist model would have predicted that strategic considerations would override humanitarian ones, causing relative neglect of all three cases.


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