Johnson hawks $95 billion Israel, Ukraine aid package amid threats to speakership

Written by on April 17, 2024

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — Speaker Mike Johnson and other House Republican leaders released a $95 billion foreign aid package Wednesday that provides funding for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan – as Congress continues to grapple with a response to actions taken by Russia, Iran and China that have defied the international community.

The package includes $26.4 billion for Israel aid, including $4 billion to replenish Israel Iron Dome defense system, $60.8 billion for Ukraine aid, including $23 billion for replenishing weapons and $8.1 billion for Indo-Pacific aid.

Johnson, who is facing a small revolt within his own conference and will need to rely on Democratic votes to advance the package, told members to expect a final passage vote on the package Saturday evening. But the path to getting there will be an uphill battle and could potentially cost the speaker his gavel.

Far-right Republicans are mocking Johnson’s plan as the #AmericaLast Act – complaining, for example, that it includes $481 million to pay for housing, medical bills and legal fees for Ukrainian refugees coming to the United States.

“The Republican Speaker of the House is seeking a rule to pass almost $100 billion in foreign aid – while unquestionably, dangerous criminals, terrorists, & fentanyl pour across our border. The border “vote” in this package is a watered-down dangerous cover vote. I will oppose,” Chip Roy, R-Texas, said in a statement on X.

Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is threatening to oust Johnson, said in a statement on X, “Speaker Johnson, voted against $300 million for Ukraine before we gave you the gavel along with the majority of Republicans, no one understands why it is now your top priority to give Ukraine $60 billion more dollars. You are seriously out of step with Republicans by continuing to pass bills dependent on Democrats.”

Greene’s motion to vacate the speakership hangs over Johnson’s head — though he has moved forward with his plan undeterred.

While several Republicans are coming out strongly against the plan, President Joe Biden and top Democrats are urging lawmakers to support the bills.

Biden urged the House to pass the package this week, adding that the Senate should “quickly follow.”

“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,” Biden wrote in a statement Wednesday.

​​Rep. Rosa DeLauro — the top Democratic appropriator in the House – announced her support for the three bills, noting they “mirror” the Senate’s bipartisan national security package that passed through the upper chamber on Feb. 13.

“After House Republicans dragged their feet for months, we finally have a path forward to provide support for our allies and desperately needed humanitarian aid,” DeLauro, D-Conn., stated. “We cannot retreat from the world stage under the guise of putting ‘America First.’ We put America first by demonstrating the power of American leadership – that we have the strength, resolve, and heart to fight for the most vulnerable people, protect their freedom, and preserve their dignity. I urge swift passage of these bills.”

Republicans are expected to unveil a fourth measure later Wednesday, including the REPO Act, sanctions, the Tik Tok bill, and other measures to “confront Russia, China and Iran.”

And to appease hardliners, the House will also introduce a separate bill on the border that includes “the core components of H.R.2, under a separate rule that will allow for amendments.”

If the package clears the House this weekend, the Senate will have a one-week recess to consider how to handle the legislation when the upper chamber returns on April 29.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Current track