House Speaker Unveils $95 Billion Foreign Aid Bills

Joseph Lord
By Joseph Lord
April 17, 2024Congress
House Speaker Mike Johnson on April 17 came under fire from House Freedom Caucus Republicans for moving forward with foreign aid bills without tying them to funding for the U.S.–Mexico border.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) on April 17 revealed a series of foreign aid bills totaling $95 billion that come as he faces renewed challenges and frustrations from his conference.

The packages unveiled Wednesday include funding for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan and other Indo-Pacific partners.

The $95 billion price tag puts it nearly evenly in line with an earlier Senate-passed foreign aid and national security package that Mr. Johnson declined to take up in the House.

Of that $95 billion top-line figure, roughly two-thirds—$61 billion—will go to Ukraine.

A little over $26 billion of the package will go to Israel, and $16.5 billion of that funding is dedicated to military funding, including replenishing the depleted reserves of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

Nearly $10 billion in additional funding is slated for humanitarian relief for “vulnerable populations and communities” in the Gaza Strip.

Finally, the bill includes roughly $8 billion for the United States’s Indo-Pacific partners—namely Taiwan—amid increasing Chinese aggression in the region.

A fourth expected bill was not unveiled with these three packages.

That legislation is expected to include a revised TikTok ban—which passed the House but has stalled in the Senate—and the REPO Act, which would allow the United States to finance some of the package’s foreign aid by seizing the assets of Russian oligarchs.

The move is likely to enflame tensions in an already deeply divided House Republican conference and increases the likelihood that Mr. Johnson, like his predecessor Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), will face a motion to vacate.

Since Mr. Johnson announced his plan Monday evening to put new foreign aid on the floor, he’s faced pressure from two members of his conference—Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.)—to resign.

That’s a call that Mr. Johnson says he has no plans to heed.

However, with his paper-thin two-vote majority that will soon be reduced to a one-vote majority when Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) leaves later this week, the threat posed by Ms. Greene and Mr. Massie is far from an idle one.

Should Ms. Greene activate her motion to vacate against Mr. Johnson, it would all but guarantee that he would need Democratic support to keep his job.

Ms. Greene has said she’s “firmly against the plan,” which she’s decried as a “scam,” but has yet to indicate that she’ll activate her motion to vacate in response to it. Ms. Greene has repeated on several occasions that she “[hasn’t] given a red line” on what would compel her to activate the motion.

While Democrats have yet to commit to giving him the backing he would likely need to survive such a motion, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) has indicated that it’s far from an impossibility.

During a press conference last week, Mr. Jeffries said: “If the speaker will do the right thing and allow the House to have an up or down vote on the national security bill, I believe that there are a reasonable number of Democrats who would not want to see the speaker fall.”

Several Democrats, including former House Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), have said that they would protect Mr. Johnson if instructed to do so by Mr. Jeffries.

Meanwhile, House Democrats have tentatively signaled they would back the plan.

“The important point is the substance of the legislation. The substance matters,” Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), chairman of the Democratic Caucus, told reporters on April 16.

After the legislation was unveiled, the White House announced its support for the package.

“I strongly support this package to get critical support to Israel and Ukraine, provide desperately needed humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, and bolster security and stability in the Indo-Pacific,” President Joe Biden said. “Israel is facing unprecedented attacks from Iran, and Ukraine is facing continued bombardment from Russia that has intensified dramatically in the last month.

“The House must pass the package this week and the Senate should quickly follow,” President 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.”

Emel Akan contributed to this report. 

From The Epoch Times

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