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The House approves the $95 billion foreign aid package, and the bill then moves to the Senate

The House of Representatives approved $95 billion in foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies in a rare weekend session, as Democrats and Republicans joined forces after months of hard-right resistance to renewed U.S. support for repelling the invasion of Russia.

With an overwhelming majority of votes Saturday, the $61 billion in aid for Ukraine passed within minutes, a strong performance as U.S. lawmakers rush to deliver a new round of U.S. aid to the war-torn ally. Many Democrats cheered on the floor of the House of Representatives and waved blue and yellow flags of Ukraine.

Aid to Israel and its other allies also won approval by wide margins, as did a measure to restrict the popular platform TikTok, with unique coalitions formed to advance the individual bills. The entire package goes to the Senate, which can approve it on Tuesday. President Joe Biden has pledged to sign it immediately.

We did our job here, and I think history will judge this well,” said a weary Chairman Mike Johnson, R-La., who risked his own job to forward the package.

Biden spoke separately with Johnson and Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries to thank them for “putting our national security first” by advancing the legislation, the White House said.

“I urge the Senate to quickly send this package to my desk so I can sign it into law and we can quickly send weapons and equipment to Ukraine to meet their urgent battlefield needs,” the president said. president.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine said he was grateful to both parties in the House of Representatives and “personally to Speaker Mike Johnson for the decision that keeps history on track,” he said on X, formerly Twitter.

“Thanks, America!” he said.

The scene in Congress was a striking display of action after months of dysfunction and gridlock fueled by Republicans, who hold the majority but are deeply divided over foreign aid, especially to Ukraine. Johnson relied on Democrats to ensure military and humanitarian funding — the first major package for Ukraine since December 2022 — received approval.

The morning began with a somber and serious debate and an unusual sense of purpose as Republican and Democratic leaders jointly pushed for quick approval, saying it would ensure the United States would support its allies and remain a leader on the world stage. The visitors’ galleries of the House were full of spectators.

“The eyes of the world are on us, and history will judge what we do here and now,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Passage through the House of Representatives cleared the biggest hurdle to Biden’s funding request, which was first made in October as Ukraine’s military supplies ran low.

The Republican Party-controlled House of Representatives struggled for months with what to do. It first demanded that any aid to Ukraine be tied to policy changes at the U.S.-Mexico border, then immediately rejected a bipartisan Senate offer to that effect.

Reaching an endgame has been an excruciating boost for Johnson, testing both his resolve and his support among Republicans, with a small but growing number now openly calling for his removal from the speaker’s office. Yet congressional leaders are casting their vote as a turning point in history — an urgent sacrifice as America’s allies are besieged by wars and threats from continental Europe to the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific.

Sometimes, when you live history, as we do today, you don’t understand the meaning of the actions of the votes we cast in this House, and the effect that it will have in the longer term,” said the New York representative . Gregory Meeks, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said: “This is a historic moment.”

Opponents, particularly Johnson’s far-right Republican majority, argued that the US should focus on the home front and address domestic border security and the country’s rising debt burden, and they warned against spending more money, much of which flows to American defense manufacturers. to produce weapons for use abroad.

Yet Congress has seen a stream of world leaders visit in recent months, from Zelensky to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, all but begging lawmakers to approve the aid. Globally, the delay caused many to question America’s commitment to its allies.

At stake is one of Biden’s top foreign policy priorities: halting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s advance in Europe. After holding calm talks with Johnson, the president quickly approved Johnson’s plan, clearing the way for Democrats to lend their rare support to overcome the procedural hurdles needed for a final vote.

“We have a responsibility, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans, to defend democracy where it is in danger,” Jeffries said during the debate.

While aid to Ukraine failed to win over a majority of Republicans, several dozen progressive Democrats voted against the bill supporting Israel as they demanded an end to the bombardment of Gaza, which has killed thousands of civilians. A group of about 20 far-right Republicans voted against every part of the aid package, including for allies such as Israel and Taiwan, which have traditionally enjoyed support from the Republican Party.

Some Republicans also angrily objected to their counterparts waving Ukrainian flags during the vote. Rep. Kat Cammack, a Republican from Florida, said on

At the same time, Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has played a prominent role in the fray, voicing his opinions from afar through social media statements and direct phone calls to lawmakers, while tilting the Republican Party toward a more isolationist stance with his ” America First’. brand of politics.

Ukraine’s defense once enjoyed strong bipartisan support in Congress, but as the war enters its third year, a majority of Republicans oppose further aid. Trump ally Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., offered an amendment to zero out the money, but it was rejected.

The ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus has derided the legislation as the “America Last” foreign wars package and urged lawmakers to defy Republican leadership and oppose it because the bills do not include border security measures.

Johnson’s grip on the gavel has also weakened in recent days, as three Republicans, led by Greene, backed a “motion to evict” that could lead to a vote on the speaker’s resignation. Spurred on by far-right personalities, she is also joined by a growing number of lawmakers, including Reps. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky., who are urging Johnson to voluntarily step aside.

The package included several Republican priorities that Democrats endorsed, or at least are willing to accept. These include proposals that would allow the US to seize frozen assets from Russia’s central banks to rebuild Ukraine; impose sanctions on Iran, Russia, China and criminal organizations that traffic fentanyl; and legislation requiring the China-based owner of the popular video app TikTok to sell its stake within a year or face a ban in the United States.

Yet the all-out push to get the bills through Congress is a reflection not just of politics but of reality in Ukraine. Top lawmakers on the national security committees, privy to classified briefings, have grown deeply concerned about the tide of war as Russia batters Ukraine’s armed forces beset by troop and ammunition shortages.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced that the Senate would begin procedural votes on the package on Tuesday, saying, “Our allies around the world have been waiting for this moment.”

As he prepared to overcome objections from his right flank next week, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said: “The task ahead is urgent. It is once again the Senate’s turn to make history.”