Home » What to know about the three foreign aid bills the House of Representatives will vote on this week

What to know about the three foreign aid bills the House of Representatives will vote on this week

by John Jefferson
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Speaker Mike Johnson has released a much-anticipated series of foreign aid bills, teeing up the House of Representatives for a vote within days as President Joe Biden vows to sign it into law “immediately.”

The $94bn package comes in three separate bills delineating aid for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan. The package has been Senate-approved since February and subsequently stalled by the GOP-led House. The allocations will only apply through September 2024, when the fiscal year ends. A fourth bill that covers a wide range of GOP foreign policy priorities will also be considered. Voting is expected to begin on Saturday.

House Republicans are also expected to release a fifth bill calling for increased US-Mexico border security.

The president praised Mr Johnson’s decision to put the bills forward, pledging to sign them into law if passed.

This release comes as Mr Johnson faces calls for his removal by far-right members of the House. Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie urged Mr Johnson to step down during a meeting of the House GOP conference on Tuesday. The call came after Mr Johnson said he was putting forth the foreign aid legislation.

“I am not concerned about this, I am going to do my job, and I think that’s what the American people expect of us,” the Speaker said on Tuesday.

Speaker Mike Johnson introduced three foreign aid bills that the House of Representatives will vote on in the coming days (REUTERS)

Last month, Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene also filed a motion to remove him as Speaker after he allowed the House to vote on funding the federal government for the rest of the current fiscal year. Mr Massie has since said he would support her measure.

Other members, like GOP Representative Chip Roy, have also said they will vote against a rule needed to bring the bills to a vote. The Speaker will need Democratic votes to both pass the rule and the aid bills given the Republican party’s already-thin majority in the chamber.

Ukraine: $60.84bn

$26bn of the aid would go towards promoting oversight and accountability of the US aid to Ukraine. Another $23bn would replenish the defence systems and equipment previously provided, while just under $14bn would help procure new “advanced weapons systems, defense articles, and defense services.”

Speaker Mike Johnson says he won’t resign over ‘absurd’ ouster attempt

Other funds will go towards US military personnel in the region.

Several GOP House members stand opposed to Ukrainian aid — Ms Greene and Mr Massie both have a long history of voting against aid to the country. In an effort to show her disdain for the bill, Ms Greene introduced an amendment on Wednesday that would require representatives who vote in favour to “conscript in the Ukrainian military.”

This proposed bill comes as Ukrainian officials warn of ammunition shortages and Russian attacks of growing intensity.

On Wednesday, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal warned there could be a “third world war” if the country loses the war against Russia, urging the House to pass the aid bill.

Ukraine needs “this money yesterday, not tomorrow, not today,” Mr Shymal said.

Israel: $26.38bn

If passed, this bill would delegate billions to Israel’s defence systems, including $4bn to “replenish Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems.” Another $4.4bn would be allocated for general replenishment of defence articles and systems previously provided to Israel.

The Iron Dome is a system that shoots down short-range rockets, developed with US backing. David’s Sling, similarly, specialises in shooting down mid-range missiles.

Separately, Mr Biden and his administration appear poised to make an $18bn sale of fighter jets to the IDF. He also recently authorised the sale of more than 2,000 bombs to the Israelis. Amid widespread calls to condition US aid to Israel, White House officials said these sales are the result of processes agreed upon years ago.

In the last six months, Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has killed more than 33,400 people, according to the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza. The attacks come in response to 7 October, when Hamas launched a surprise attack against Israel, killing some 1,200 people and taking more than 200 people hostage.

Taiwan: $8.12bn

This bill, the smallest and least-controversial of the three, will fund “key allies and security partners in the Indo-Pacific confronting Chinese aggression.”

$2bn will go to the Foreign Military Financing Program for Taiwan and other allies. $3.3bn would fund submarine infrastructure, while another $1.9bn would replenish existing defense services to Taiwan and other allies.

Other funds will go towards developing artillery and supporting US military in the region.

Sweeping GOP foreign policy bill

The fourth bill, the “21st Century Peace through Strength Act,” proposes several Republican foreign policy measures.

Overall, it would introduce harsher sanctions on Russia, China and Iran. The measure calls for the sale of frozen assets from Russian oligarchs, a move previously introduced in the REPO Act.

The bill, if passed as is, also calls for the prohibition of “Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications.” The text specifically identifies TikTok, meaning the bill could force the sale of the social media app.

This measure comes after the House voted last month to approve a bill that would require Chinese firm Bytedance to divest from TikTok and other applications that it owns within 180 days. If ByteDance does not divest, TikTok would be removed from US app stores.

US-Mexico border bill

The House GOP has not yet released this fifth bill that would call for heightened security at the US-Mexico border.

While the House will consider the three foreign aid bills and GOP foreign policy bill as a group, this fifth border bill will be brought to the House floor separately.

The bill comes after sharp GOP criticism against Mr Johnson for introducing the foreign aid and foreign policy bills without border measures. The foreign aid bills, which were approved by the Senate months ago, have been stalled in the House over hardline GOP concerns about the US-Mexico border.

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