Congressional Republicans split Israeli aid from Ukraine bill

Separating the Ukrainian and Israeli elements in the Senate’s foreign aid bill can gain the backing of hardline Republicans.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The House of Representatives will vote this week on an aid package to Israel, Speaker Mike Johnson said Monday, in a bid to show the world that the U.S. firmly supports its friends.

“We know that the world is watching us, to see how we react” to the actions of “terrorists and tyrants” such as Russia, China and Iran, he said, and “whether America will stand up for its allies and our own interests around the globe – and we will.”

Johnson spoke following a GOP conference meeting, in which it was decided to split the U.S. foreign aid bill into several parts instead of voting on it as a lump sum, an idea that has been floated before.

“We’ll bring to the House floor independent measures… in four different pieces,” he said, which will separate the vote on aid to Israel from proposed aid to the Indo-Pacific and Ukraine, and amendments that proposed, among other things, additional sanctions against Iran.

The Senate passed a bill two months ago that combined everything into a $95 billion package, with $14 billion of it going to Israel and $60 billion to Ukraine.

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This had garnered strong opposition from right-wing elements in the Republican party due to their hesitation regarding pouring more money into the two-year-old Russia-Ukraine war.

The House Freedom Caucus, with some three dozen hardline conservatives, called for aid to Israel but not Kyiv Monday, approving of the idea of splitting the vote. One, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), wrote on social media that “Israel funding should not be held hostage by Ukraine funding.”

The White House has been pressing for the passage of the Senate’s bill, as have the Democratic leadership.

They have pointed out that the foreign aid measure had gained 70% support, meaning that many Republicans voted in favor of it, considering that the Democrats have only 48 seats, along with three Independents who almost always vote with them.

“If House Republicans put the Senate [spending bill] on the floor, I believe it would pass today, reach the president’s desk tonight and Israel would get the aid it needs by tomorrow,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday.

Splitting up the package means that all the measures would have to go back to the Senate for a return vote, delaying the aid.

Both houses in Congress would like to help Israel especially after the unprecedented Iranian attack overnight Saturday, when Tehran launched over 300 cruise and ballistic missiles and explosive UAVs at the Jewish state, 99% of which were shot down before reaching Israeli territory.

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The stand-alone bills should come to a vote on Friday, Johnson said.