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Progress for support package for Ukraine and Israel in Congress

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Speaker Mike Johnson after the House of Representatives with the votes of the Democrats voted for further consideration of the support package for Ukraine and Israel. But he has to defend himself against hard-line Republicans who oppose support for Ukraine and threaten to oust him as speaker. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP / NTB

Of NTB | 19.04.2024 19:33:15

Policy: By a vote of 316 to 94, the House of Representatives on Friday adopted the necessary procedures for the package of $95 billion in military aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, as well as humanitarian aid, to be passed over the weekend and then sent to the Senate.

The decision is a victory for Speaker Mike Johnson, who presented the plan after two months of discussion. But he is subject to harsh criticism from the most conservative Republicans who oppose support for Ukraine, and who threaten to have him fired as speaker if the plan is adopted.

Johnson made it clear that the Ukrainians desperately need the support, and that “we cannot let Vladimir Putin roll over yet another country and conquer it.”

Since the plan was finally tabled, the House has been working slowly but surely on the procedures, while President Joe Biden gave his support to Johnson’s plan. And for once, Donald Trump, who is against foreign aid, has not stopped the plan.

On Thursday, the four Democrats on the House Procedures Committee joined the Republican majority in agreeing to send the plan to debate, against the votes of the three most uncompromising Republicans.

Greene has also tabled a motion to oust Johnson as speaker. If the plan is adopted, she can thus ask for a vote, in the same way as when the Republicans threw out their previous speaker, Kevin McCarthy.

With one of the slimmest majorities ever, Johnson cannot refer more than one or two Republicans in votes against Democrats. Therefore, he is completely dependent on the Democrats to get the package through.

To get the Democrats’ support, he had to drop including money for measures against migrants on the border with Mexico, and he had to include the humanitarian support that the Democrats demanded.

But such a design can be an advantage for some Democrats as well. Thus, those on the left who are against unconditional military support for Israel can vote against this part, and at the same time vote for support for Ukraine.

Either way, each part is likely to pass with strong support, including by a majority of Republicans. They are then stitched together into one package and sent to the Senate, which has been told of a likely vote over the weekend, after which it will be sent to the White House for signature.

In the further process, Johnson must again seek support from the Democrats, also to reject proposals from the most radical right-wing Republicans who want to kill the plan, among them the proposal from Marjorie Taylor Greene to cut aid to Ukraine to zero.

The most he could do was split the Senate package into four, as the Republicans wanted. Thus, support for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and humanitarian aid is voted on separately.

(© NTB)

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