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House approves aid bills for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan

Washington — The House approved a $95 billion foreign aid package Saturday, in a pivotal moment for House Speaker Mike Johnson as he tries to stave off a right-wing rebellion. 

The package consists of four bills that were voted on separately and will be combined into one before being sent to the Senate. The first three bills include $60.8 billion to help Ukraine in its war with Russia; $26.4 billion to support Israel, which is fighting Hamas and Iran; and $8.1 billion to counter China in the Indo-Pacific. Humanitarian aid for Gaza, which Democrats said was necessary for their support, is also included. 

The fourth bill would allow the sale of frozen assets of Russian oligarchs to help fund future aid to Ukraine, potentially force the sale of TikTok and authorize stricter sanctions on Russia, China and Iran. The House approved the fourth bill Saturday in a 360 to 58 vote. 

The House voted overwhelmingly to approve the aid bill for allies in the Indo-Pacific in a 385 to 34 vote, with one member voting present, along with the aid for Israel, with a 366 to 58 vote. More contentious was the vote on Ukraine aid, which came after months of infighting among House Republicans. But lawmakers voted 311 to 112 with one member voting present to approve the aid, despite the steep pushback from some House conservatives. 

The speaker said separating the bills would allow members to vote their "conscience" on each one. 

In a statement late Saturday afternoon following the House passage, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, indicated that the Senate would take up the vote on the package Tuesday. 

Schumer said Senate Republicans and Democrats had a "few moments ago…locked in an agreement enabling the Senate to finish work on the supplemental with the first vote on Tuesday afternoon."

Schumer thanked Johnson and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries "for working together to do the right thing for our country. I know it was a difficult road, but the House is on the right side of history for approving this bill."

Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, unveiled the package earlier this week amid increasing pressure from other congressional leaders and the White House to hold a vote on a similar $95 billion package that passed the Senate in February. The Senate package has sat idle in the House for months as the speaker debated a path forward, and as he has faced threats from a small number of Republicans, who oppose sending more aid to Ukraine and want border measures, to hold a vote on dethroning him. 

"We gave our members a voice, we gave them a chance, we gave them a better process and ultimately a much better policy," Johnson told reporters after the votes on Saturday, highlighting what he says are improvements from the Senate's foreign aid package. 

Johnson said earlier this week that if he hadn't moved forward with his plan, an effort to bypass him and force a vote on the Senate bill would have gained more support. House Democrats tried to use a rarely successful legislative maneuver known as a discharge petition to do just that, but are short of the 218 signatures needed.

"We would have had to eat the Senate supplemental bill," Johnson said. 

The effort to oust Johnson has three Republican backers so far: Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Paul Gosar of Arizona. Gosar announced his support after more Democrats than Republicans on Friday voted to advance the package, setting it up for final passage on Saturday. 

The rebellion puts Johnson's job at risk if Democrats don't step in to save him if the group of hardliners forces a vote. But Greene hasn't given a timeline for if and when she plans to force a vote. 

Johnson has stood behind his decision to bring up Ukraine aid for a vote. Citing classified briefings he's received, Johnson called the aid "critically important" in pushing back on Russian aggression. 

"I don't walk around this building being worried about a motion to vacate," Johnson told reporters on Saturday. "I've done here what I believe to be the right thing and that is to allow the House to work its will. And as I've said, you do the right thing and you let the chips fall where they may."

CIA Director William Burns said this week that with the aid from Congress, he believes "Ukraine can hold its own on the battlefield through 2024 and continue to inflict damage on Russia, both with deeper strikes in Crimea and also against Russia's Black Sea fleet, where the Ukrainians have sunk 16 ships just over the last six months," after warning about the dire situation for Ukraine should they not get additional financial support from the U.S.

— Jaala Brown, Ellis Kim and Norah O'Donnell contributed reporting. 

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