May 30, 2024

WASHINGTON — The House on Saturday passed a $95 billion package that includes two long-awaited bills with $60.8 billion of Ukraine aid and $26 billion in aid to Israel.

The Ukraine bill, which passed with 311 votes in favor, 112 votes against, and one present, will now head to the Senate alongside the Israel aid bill and two others — one with aid for Taiwan and another that forces TikTok’s parent company to sell the platform. 

Lawmakers were seen waving Ukrainian flags and cheering upon the Ukraine bill’s passage. There were 101 Republicans and 210 Democrats who voted in favor, while Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Pa., voted present. All 112 votes against it came from Republicans.

The Israel bill passed 366-58, with 193 Republicans and 173 Democrats voting in favor.

The passage of the bills comes weeks after the Senate passed a mammoth bill with aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, plus funding for border security. Speaker Mike Johnson refused to bring that bill to the floor, instead opting to pass three separate bills with aid for the three nations.

The Ukraine aid bill comes at a crucial time in the country’s war with Russia, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has expressed the urgent need for weapons and supplies to continue defending Ukraine from Russian attacks. 

President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell lauded the House for passing the foreign aid bills on Saturday, with Biden saying in a statement that a bipartisan group of lawmakers voted to “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,” he added.

In a separate statement, McConnell said, “Today’s action moves this critical national security supplemental one step closer to helping America and our friends to meet the most dangerous array of threats in a generation. From the battlefields of Ukraine to the cities and kibbutzes of Israel, and from the Red Sea to the South China Sea, our adversaries are colluding to violently undermine America, our allies, and our global interests.” 

The House also voted on Saturday to force TikTok’s parent company to sell it or be banned in the U.S. According to the bill, China-based ByteDance will have to sell TikTok within nine months — which the president could extend to a year — or face a nationwide ban. The policy, which lengthens the time frame for a sale from an earlier House bill, has Senate buy-in along with Biden’s support, putting TikTok closer than ever to a ban in the U.S.

The lower chamber also voted to provide $8.12 billion in aid to Taiwan.

The House voted on the four bills in succession, one day after a rare and extraordinary bipartisan coalition teed up the votes, with more Democrats (165) than Republicans (151) voting for the “rule” to proceed to the measures.

The three foreign aid bills will now go to the Senate for approval. Taken together, they include the $95 billion aid package championed by Biden, with some changes from the version passed by the Senate two months ago.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., at the Capitol on April 17, 2024.Aaron Schwartz / Sipa USA via AP

Holding the votes represented an act of defiance by Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., against an outspoken faction of conservative rebels who oppose Ukraine funding and pushed him not to bring it to a vote. Three of them — Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Thomas Massie, R-Ky., and Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. — have threatened to oust him as speaker. The passage of the bill may bring Greene one step closer to forcing a vote to remove him.

After months of wavering, Johnson sided with Biden, Democrats and the Republicans who believe that helping Ukraine fend off Russian aggression is essential to U.S. national security interests, citing briefings he has received and warning: “Vladimir Putin would continue to march through Europe if he were allowed.”

“I would rather send bullets to Ukraine than American boys,” Johnson told reporters, noting that his son will enter the Naval Academy this year. “This is a live-fire exercise for me as it is for so many American families. This is not a game, this is not a joke.”

Ahead of the vote, former President Donald Trump issued a confusing statement that sympathized with both the pro- and anti-Ukraine aid factions of the GOP without taking a clear position.

The bills are expected to be packaged together and sent to the Senate, which will have to vote on the whole legislation to send it to Biden’s desk to sign into law. It’s unclear when that will happen, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and McConnell are outspoken proponents of the foreign aid provisions in the package.

“I hope that President Biden will soon have on his desk long-awaited funding to support our friends in Ukraine and Israel and the Indo-Pacific, and aid for innocent civilians in need of humanitarian aid in Gaza and around the world,” Schumer said before the House vote, cautioning that Ukraine’s hopes against Russia would diminish without additional U.S. weapons to defend themselves.

Late Friday, Schumer said the Senate was working to get unanimous agreement to move quickly to vote on the foreign aid legislation. “We are working on an agreement for consideration of the supplemental,” he said on the Senate floor.

McConnell said earlier this week: “Here’s the political reality: If you think the fall of Afghanistan was bad, the fall of a European capital like Kyiv to Russian troops will be unimaginably worse, and if stalled American assistance makes that outcome possible, there’s no question where the blame will land, on us.”