Ukraine, Israel Aid Bill Clears Procedural Hurdle in House With Democrat Help

Jackson Richman
By Jackson Richman
April 19, 2024Congress
The House voted to move forward on the foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. Democrats supported the move while opposition came from the more conservative members of the GOP.

Democrats on April 19 helped Republicans advance $95 billion in bills that would provide assistance to Israel, Ukraine, and the Indo-Pacific, as well as a measure that could ban TikTok.

The final tally to pass what is called a rule—which sets the parameters, such as whether amendments can be offered, and that is voted on before the House can proceed to vote on the measures themselves—passed 316–94.

While such rule votes typically occur along party lines, the rule passed with Democrat support. Fifty-five Republicans and 39 Democrats voted against it.

This vote comes just hours after the powerful House Rules Committee advanced the rule to the House floor, which passed 9–3, with Democrats joining most of the Republicans on the 13-person panel. Reps. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), Chip Roy (R-Texas), and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) voted against moving along the bills.

Final votes are expected to occur on April 20. If passed, they will be packaged together and sent to the Senate, which is expected to take up the measures early next week.

The Israel bill would give $26.3 billion to the Jewish state amid its coming under attack by Iran over the weekend and fighting Hamas, which launched its most recent attack on the Mideast country on Oct. 7, 2023, resulting in the largest single-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. It would include $4 billion for the country’s missile defense systems, such as the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and the Iron Beam.

This bill will be voted on just days after Israel’s Oct. 18, 2023, retaliatory strikes on Iran that included attacks next to a nuclear facility and a military base inside Iran. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters that the United States “has not been involved in any offensive operations.” Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani told reporters Jerusalem informed Washington “at the last minute” of the retaliation.

The Ukraine bill would give $60.84 billion to the Eastern European country, which has come under attack by Russia since February 2022. The bill would include $23.2 billion to renew both defense articles and services provided to Ukraine and $13.8 billion in assistance for Kyiv to purchase U.S. weapons and both defense services and articles.

The Indo-Pacific bill would give Taiwan and other regional allies $3.9 billion in direct military aid. This comes amid the Chinese regime’s growing aggression in the region.

A fourth bill would include numerous measures that have already been passed in the House as individual bills.

That measure would also ban TikTok unless its parent company, ByteDance, divests the app. ByteDance is connected to the Chinese Communist Party, and its leadership has previously affirmed a commitment to creating products that align with the regime’s communist values.

The bill would also enact sanctions against Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other Palestinian terrorist groups. And it would enforce Iran-related sanctions.

Additionally, it would allow for frozen Russian assets to go toward Ukraine.

It also would apply the U.S. policy to enact and enforce sanctions against groups that use civilians as human shields to Palestine Islamic Jihad, which the United States has designated as a terrorist organization.

The bill would also sanction and impose visa restrictions on individuals involved in Syria’s Captagon trade. Captagon is a widely illicit and deadly drug mass-produced in Syria, where Hezbollah has a strong presence and whose activities include drug trafficking. Captagon is a major source of revenue for the Syrian regime under Bashar al-Assad.

Ahead of the vote on the rule, House Rules Committee Chairman Michael Burgess (R-Texas) noted that passing this legislation would exemplify the United States “assert[ing] itself as the leader of the free world.” This, he said, “is not optional; it’s not a requirement we can put on pause.”

Mr. Massie lamented the bills as a way to “fund foreign wars rather than to secure our border.”

Mr. Roy lamented that the bills are not paid for and that there is “zero border security” attached to them.

The committee’s ranking member, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), noted that, given GOP opposition to the bill, especially from the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus, Democrats are helping advance the legislation “because, at the end of the day, so much more is at stake here than petty partisanship brinksmanship.”

President Joe Biden has expressed support for the bills.

“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,” he posted on X, formerly Twitter, on April 17.

Passing these bills could lead to House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) getting stripped of the gavel. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) put forth what is called a motion to vacate after the House passed earlier this month a $1.2 trillion bill to fund most of the government. Mr. Massie came out this week in support of the motion.

Additionally, Mr. Johnson looked to increase the threshold of bringing forth the motion, currently at just one member, but backed off, acknowledging the votes would not be there to do so.

“Since the beginning of the 118th Congress, the House rule allowing a Motion to Vacate from a single member has harmed this office and our House majority,” he posted on X.

“Recently, many members have encouraged me to endorse a new rule to raise this threshold,” continued Mr. Johnson. “While I understand the importance of that idea, any rule change requires a majority of the full House, which we do not have.

“We will continue to govern under the existing rules.”

Moreover, Mr. Johnson does not seem deterred.

“My philosophy is you do the right thing, and you let the chips fall where they may. If I operated out of fear over a motion to vacate, I would never be able to do my job,” he told reporters on April 17.

“Look, history judges us for what we do. This is a critical time right now—a critical time on the world stage,” he continued. “I could make a selfish decision and do something that’s different, but I’m doing here what I believe to be the right thing.”

Numerous Democrats—including Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) and Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.)—have said they would come to Mr. Johnson’s rescue if the motion is brought to the floor, which would require a vote on it within two days, though a motion to table is possible.

Not covered under the rule is a bill that would implement strict border provisions and is stuck in limbo after the committee failed to pass a rule related to the measure. The GOP, along with a few Democrats, thwarted a Senate bill earlier this year that included border measures that the GOP deemed inadequate and that those Democrats deemed unfriendly toward immigration.

The GOP-controlled House passed a strict border bill last year, but it is stuck in the Democrat-controlled Senate, where it is unlikely to be brought up.

The border bill is also scheduled to be voted on April 20 under an expedited process that requires a two-thirds majority. It is expected to fail.

From The Epoch Times

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