Skip to main content

Live updates: House passes Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan aid

·7 mins

The House has passed a $95 billion package providing foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific region. A fourth bill in the package addressed other House GOP priorities, including sanctions on Iran and a measure that could lead to a TikTok ban. The legislation will be combined into a single amendment as it moves on to the Senate. After months of resisting putting a foreign aid bill on the House floor, GOP Speaker Mike Johnson joined with Democrats to advance the measure to Saturday’s vote. The bipartisan move drew the ire of some hardline members in the Republican Party, who are supporting an effort to oust him. Johnson’s job is safe for now, as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said she won’t yet move forward with a motion to vacate.

A number of lawmakers who backed the aid packages today said their views on House Speaker Mike Johnson as a leader changed after the speaker put bills on the floor despite a threat against his job. House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican, said he thinks it was a transformative moment for Johnson as a leader, adding that the speaker’s stock in the conference has gone up even as he faces the threat of an ouster from a minority of members.

Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois was blunt when asked whether he had a new respect and view of the speaker than he did two weeks ago. ‘I guess I do. The old adage is it’s never too late to do the right thing. We tested that,’ Quigley said. ‘I think we build on this. … We have a lot of challenges. It’s good news that today at a critical time, we did act cohesively as a legislature.’ GOP Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska said he always thought Johnson would get there but a turning point came when the speaker was briefed that passing Ukraine aid by April was essential. ‘He’s always said he was for Ukraine, and I’ve always believed him,’ Bacon said. ‘I think he just came to the conclusion we couldn’t wait any longer. He was briefed that we had to get this done in April or bad things were going to happen to Ukraine."

Moments after the House passed four foreign aid bills totaling $95 billion, Speaker Mike Johnson said he had not spoken to Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries about potentially saving his job if his hardline colleagues move to oust him. ‘I don’t walk around this building being worried about a motion to vacate,’ Johnson said, referring to a procedural tool to remove the House speaker.

Walking toward his office, Johnson told reporters that he believes he will still be speaker in November and that he hasn’t spoken to any of his detractors Saturday. Johnson said the ‘world is destabilized’ and ‘a tinderbox,’ stressing the importance of the bills’ passage in a ‘dangerous time.’ ‘Three of our primary adversaries, Russia, and Iran, and China, are working together and they’re being aggressors around the globe,’ Johnson said. ‘They’re a global threat to our prosperity and our security. Their advance threatens the free world, and it demands American leadership. We turn our backs right now, the consequences could be devastating.’

The White House on Saturday clinched urgent foreign aid after a monthslong saga that involved starts and stops in Congress and was momentarily upended by one of the most politically vulnerable issues for President Joe Biden: border security. The ask for additional aid to Ukraine, among other priorities, dates to October, when the White House put forward its national security supplemental funding request. Over the last several months, Biden has framed the need to provide additional funds to the war-torn country as a national security priority, warning that no ground should be ceded to Russia. More recently, US officials attributed losses on the battlefield in Ukraine to the lack of additional assistance from the United States. In February, for example, the White House laid the blame for Ukraine’s withdrawal from the key town of Avdiivka squarely at the feet of Republicans in Congress. Funding for Ukraine was also a recurring topic of discussion between Biden and global leaders as the US sought to reaffirm its leadership on the world stage — a theme echoed in the president’s statement Saturday. ‘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,’ Biden said.

TikTok criticized the House’s passage of a bill that could ban the app in the US. “It is unfortunate that the House of Representatives is using the cover of important foreign and humanitarian assistance to once again jam through a ban bill that would trample the free speech rights of 170 million Americans, devastate 7 million businesses, and shutter a platform that contributes $24 billion to the U.S. economy, annually,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement Saturday.

President Joe Biden said in a statement Saturday that the House passage of foreign aid bills sends a ‘clear message’ about America’s leadership to the globe. ‘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,’ Biden said. ‘I urge the Senate to quickly send this package to my desk so that I can sign it into law and we can quickly send weapons and equipment to Ukraine to meet their urgent battlefield needs,’ he added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the US House for passing the Israel aid bill. ‘The US Congress just overwhelmingly passed a much appreciated aid bill that demonstrates strong bipartisan support for Israel and defends Western civilization. Thank you friends, thank you America!’ Netanyahu said on social media. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz also thanked the House, saying he hopes the measure will pass in the US Senate soon ‘with strong bipartisan support.’

The House has adjourned after passing a foreign aid package that now heads to the Senate. House Speaker Mike Johnson’s job is safe, for now, after Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said she won’t move forward with her motion to vacate — a rarely used procedural tool to remove the House speaker — on Saturday. She said she wants her GOP colleagues to ‘go home and hear from their constituents.’ The House is not expected back until April 29 after a one-week recess.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he is “grateful” for House lawmakers for passing the measure that provides aid to Ukraine, personally thanking 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,” Zelensky said. “The vital U.S. 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,” he added.

Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly argued that House Democrats should not save Speaker Mike Johnson’s job, telling CNN that the only speaker he wants is Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. ‘Democrats need to decide who they want to be speaker, and I want Hakeem Jeffries, he said. Connolly, a Virginia Democrat, noted that voting to save Johnson’s job would mean voting to save a speaker who they have major policy disagreements with, saying the Louisiana Republican’s record is “antithetical to every core value” Democrats hold. However, Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who is running for governor of Virginia, expressed an openness to saving Johnson. ‘I want this place to function, and any future votes I take will be related to my desire to keep on the job,’ she said, adding, ‘I’m gonna vote for us to continue to be able to govern and we need to be a functional body."