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US House of Representatives Approves $61 Billion in Military Aid for Ukraine Despite Strong Republican Resistance


After months of delay, the US House of Representatives finally approved more than $61bn worth of military assistance to help Ukraine in its desperate war against Russia, as well as billions for Israel and Taiwan.

In a bipartisan vote, 210 Democrats and 101 Republicans joined to support Ukraine, with 112 Republicans – a majority of the GOP members – voting against it.

The move came after the Republican speaker, Mike Johnson, forced a series of bills onto the floor in the face of fierce resistance within his own Republican party, many of whom oppose spending more on Ukraine’s defence.

Voting began hours ahead of schedule in an extraordinary Saturday session that delayed the House’s planned recess. The House erupted into applause when the Ukraine bill passed, with the chair of the house, Marc Molinaro of New York, admonishing members of the house not to wave Ukrainian flags.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukraine’s president, recently warned that his country “will lose the war” without US assistance, as its military has struggled with ammunition and air defence shortages and Russia has pressed a growing advantage in firepower as Congress prevaricated.

Immediately after the bill passed, ZelenskIy released a statement expressing his gratitude to both parties “and personally Speaker Mike Johnson for the decision that keeps history on the right track”.

“Democracy and freedom will always have global significance and will never fail as long as America helps to protect it,” he said.

“The vital US aid bill passed today by the House will keep the war from expanding, save thousands and thousands of lives, and help both of our nations to become stronger. Just peace and security can only be attained through strength. We hope that bills will be supported in the Senate and sent to President Biden’s desk. Thank you, America!”

Members were voting on a package worth close to $95bn in total, but which had been broken up into four separate bills, as Johnson effectively de-coupled the vote on Ukraine from funding for Israel, which is more widely supported among both Democrats and Republicans.

The vote on granting additional funding for Israel also easily passed the House, with 365 in favour and only 57 opposed: 36 Democrats and 21 Republicans.

By splitting the bill into four, Johson sought to allow recalcitrant far-right members of his own GOP conference to vote with their conscience on the parts they disliked.

First to be voted on was a bill including legislation on border security, which failed, as expected. Many rightwing Republicans do not want the Biden administration to win credit for resolving a crisis at the US border with Mexico, where there has been an upsurge of asylum seekers, during an election year as Donald Trump, is seeking to make the border an election issue.

The $95bn in total funding includes roughly $61bn for Ukraine (with much of the funding going towards replenishing American munitions); $26bn for Israel; $8bn for US allies in the Indo-Pacific region, including Taiwan; and $9bn in humanitarian assistance for civilians in war zones, such as Haiti, Sudan and Gaza, though the package also includes a ban on direct US funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (Unrwa), an agency providing key assistance to Gaza, until March 2025.

In the Ukraine bill, of the $60.7bn, a total of about $23bn would be used by the US to replenish its military stockpiles, opening the door to future US military transfers to Ukraine.

Another $14bn would go to the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, in which the Pentagon buys advanced new weapon systems for the Ukrainian military directly from US defence contractors.

There is also more than $11bn to fund current US military operations in the region, enhancing the capabilities of the Ukrainian military and fostering intelligence collaboration between Kyiv and Washington, and about $8bn in non-military assistance, such as helping Ukraine’s government continue basic operations, including the payment of salaries and pensions.

The package largely copies the foreign aid proposal passed by the Senate in February, although it designates $10bn of the Ukraine funding as a repayable loan to appease some Republican members.

The Israel bill includes about $4.4bn to replenish depleted US supplies given to Israel; $4bn for missile defence, including the much-vaunted Iron Dome, and $1.2bn for the Iron Beam; and $3.5bn to help Israel buy weapons. There are also provisions to make it easier to supply Israel with US munitions held in other countries.

The bill supporting Taiwan, included more than $8bn for countering Chinese activities, about $3.3bn for submarines and $2bn of military assistance to Taiwan.

Another bill included a provision to force the Chinese company ByteDance to sell its popular social media app TikTok, which Congress is worried gives China the ability to gain information about American citizens. That bill – the 21st Century Peace through Strength Act – also included the seizure of frozen Russian sovereign assets, and more sanctions on Iran.

In a statement after the vote passed, US President Biden said:

 “Today, members of both parties in the House voted to advance our national security interests and send a clear message about the power of American leadership on the world stage. At this critical inflection point, they came together to answer history’s call, passing urgently needed national security legislation that I have fought for months to secure.

“This package will deliver critical support to Israel and Ukraine; provide desperately needed humanitarian aid to Gaza, Sudan, Haiti and other locations impacted by conflicts and natural disasters around the world; and bolster security and stability in the Indo-Pacific. It comes at a moment of grave urgency, with Israel facing unprecedented attacks from Iran, and Ukraine under continued bombardment from Russia.” He called on the Senate to quickly pass the bill “so that I can sign it into law and we can quickly send weapons and equipment to Ukraine to meet their urgent battlefield needs”.

The US has so far sent Ukraine roughly $111bn in weapons, equipment, humanitarian assistance and other aid since the start of the war more than two years ago.

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