US House passes aid package for Ukraine, Israel

Final Congressional approval is expected to come later during the weekend, when the package will be sent to the Senate.

The House of Representatives approved a $95.3 billion foreign-aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and other American allies on Saturday. Lawmakers approved the package, most of which is direct military assistance, in separate votes, New York Post reported.

Final Congressional approval is expected to come later during the weekend, when the package will be sent to the Senate. US President Joe Biden has announced that he will sign it into law.

One bill provides $60.8 billion for Ukraine, with over 80 per cent of it for helping Kyiv amid its ongoing war with Russia, including replenishing supplies of US made weapons and ammunition. Around $9.5 billion of the package is in the form of a forgivable loan.

The bill was passed 311-112, with Republicans voting against it. Many Democrats celebrated the passage of the bill and waved Ukraine flags while shouting “Ukraine.” Of the 218 House Republican lawmakers, 112 voted against the bill, according to New York Post report.

US House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson, who supported the bill, warned that it is a “violation” of the House to wave flags on the floor.

US Representative Anna Anna Paulina Luna asked Democrats to “Put those damn flags away!” A second measure provides roughly $17 billion in direct military aid for Israel and more than USD 9 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza and other war-torn regions.

The bill was passed 366-58 with dissenting members including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other “Squad” members and Representative Bob Good Freedom Caucus members, New York Post reported.

The third bill passed, 385-34, provides $8.1 billion for the Indo-Pacific region to help deter China, about half of which has been kept aside for Taiwan.

US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul urged US House lawmakers to back the foreign-aid package, saying “evil is on the march.”

Before the vote, he said, “History is calling and now is the time to act.” He added, “Our adversaries are working together to undermine our Western values and demean our democracy.”

The lawmakers approval of the package came a day after a bipartisan coalition led by US House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson voted 316-94 to clear a key procedural measure so it could be considered on the floor.

Most of the Republican lawmakers in the House supported Mike Johnson’s plans, despite threats by Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene and other far-right lawmakers to oust him as speaker if he went ahead with the Ukraine aid bill instead of prioritising US border security as record-breaking numbers of migrants illegally enter the US and impact public funds.

The three amendments to the Ukraine bill, including one by Marjorie Taylor Greene reducing “every dollar amount in the bill to zero”, were all rejected on Saturday, New York Post reported.

A new border bill, introduced by Representative Juan Ciscomani, would have raised penalties for gun and drug-related offences committed in matters related to illegal immigration. However, it failed to clear the two-thirds supermajority that is required to pass the bill.

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had placed pressure on Johnson to support a USD 95 billion bill approved by the Senate in February. That legislation provides all funding in a single bill. House Republicans have made several additions in the package, which are expected to be get Senate approval. (ANI)

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