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House GOP's aid bills for Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan advance — with Democrats' help

House moves closer to passing foreign aid bills
House moves closer to passing foreign aid bills 02:11

Washington — The House cleared a procedural hurdle to advance legislation to provide billions of dollars in stalled security funding for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan on Friday, steering the measures closer toward passage this weekend.

The full House voted to approve the rule for debate on the legislative package with broad bipartisan support, 316 to 94. Democrats ultimately delivered more votes than Republicans — 165 Democrats voted in favor, while 39 opposed it, and 151 Republicans voted in favor, and 55 opposed.

After the procedural vote, House Speaker Mike Johnson told reporters he was "happy the rule passed," and said if it hadn't, the House would have been forced by a discharge petition to pass the Senate version of the bill, which he referred to as a "blank check for foreign aid." 

"Even though it's not the perfect legislation, it's not the legislation that we worked, [that] we would write if Republicans were in charge of the House, the Senate and the White House, this is the best possible product that we can get under these circumstances, to take care of these really important obligations," he said.

The House will vote on final passage Saturday afternoon, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer asked senators to be prepared to stay the weekend to vote on the measure. President Biden has said he will sign it into law.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson walks towards the House chamber at the Capitol on April 19, 2024.
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson walks towards the House chamber at the Capitol on April 19, 2024. Andrew Harnik / Getty Images

The House Rules Committee reconvened late Thursday night and advanced the rule for the package on a 9-3 vote, thanks to the votes of all four Democrats who sit on the committee: Ranking Member Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse and New Mexico Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández.

The conservative Republican hardliners on the committee — Reps. Tom Massie of Kentucky, Ralph Norman of South Carolina and Chip Roy of Texas — all voted against the rule, because border security was not being paired with foreign aid. However, the speaker said he would put an "aggressive" border bill to a vote on Friday. It failed to advance out of the Rules Committee, but the House will consider it under a suspension of the rules, which means it will require two-thirds support to pass. 

The three foreign aid bills would provide $26.4 billion to support Israel, $60.8 billion to bolster Ukraine and $8.1 billion to counter China in the Indo-Pacific, including billions for Taiwan. The Israel measure also includes more than $9.1 billion to address Palestinian humanitarian needs, which Democrats said was necessary for their support. 

A fourth bill is geared toward addressing other GOP foreign policy priorities. In particular, it 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. 

If all the bills pass the House, they will be combined into one package before being sent to the Senate, according to the rule. 

President Biden said he would sign the package into law and called on the House to pass it this week and the Senate to quickly follow. Both chambers are scheduled to be in recess next week. 

Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, announced the proposal on Monday amid mounting pressure from members in both parties to hold a vote on a bipartisan Senate package that includes support for the U.S. allies. The $95 billion supplemental funding package that passed the Senate in February has stagnated for months in the House as Johnson has debated a path forward.

Foreign aid has sown deep divisions among House Republicans. Some on the far right have threatened to oust Johnson from the speakership over additional funding to Ukraine, which they oppose. The effort, led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, so far has two other backers — Massie and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona. 

Johnson defended his decision Wednesday and said providing Ukraine with lethal aid was "critically important."

"If I operated out of fear over a motion to vacate, I would never be able to do my job," Johnson told reporters. 

"Look, history judges us for what we do," he said, adding, "This is a critical time right now critical time on the world stage. I could make a you know I can make a selfish decision and do something that that's different. But I'm doing here what I believe to be the right thing."

GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado predicted "this could be the beginning of the end for the speaker." 

Nikole Killion, Laura Garrison and Kristin Brown contributed reporting.

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