US NewsBreakthrough in US aid: Separate bills boost support for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan

Breakthrough in US aid: Separate bills boost support for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan

Ukrainian soldier during training in Donetsk Oblast, February 2024
Ukrainian soldier during training in Donetsk Oblast, February 2024
Images source: © Anadolu Agency via Getty Images | Narciso Contreras

5:53 AM EDT, April 18, 2024

For months, Republicans had stalled the passage of a bill to provide billions in aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. On Wednesday, they introduced a breakthrough approach with three separate bills, potentially paving the way for adoption. "We finally have a path forward," commented Democrat Rosa DeLauro.

Abandoning the comprehensive bill passed by the Democrat-led US Senate in February, Republicans proposed dividing the aid into three distinct drafts. These drafts, unveiled in the House of Representatives, are designed to support Ukraine, Israel, and Indo-Pacific nations, respectively.

According to the summaries and texts of these proposals, a notable change from the Senate's package is the increased funding for Israel's military support, jumping from 14 to 26 billion dollars.

The proposed aid for Ukraine remains nearly the same at 60.8 billion dollars. This includes 23 billion for replenishing military equipment given to Ukraine, 13.8 billion for new equipment purchases, and 11.3 billion for maintaining US forces in the region. Additionally, the President would be able to transfer nearly 8 billion dollars worth of weapons, supplementing the approximately 4 billion already available.

Also factored into the Ukraine aid is nearly 9.5 billion dollars for financial and economic support, with new stipulations for repayment agreements, although the President may waive these. The bill encourages European nations to up their contributions by limiting US aid to no more than 50% of total international support.

For Israel, the GOP suggests spending 4 billion dollars to restock the Iron Dome and David's Sling missile defenses, with 1.2 billion for the Iron Beam laser system, 3.5 billion for advanced weaponry, and 4.4 billion to replenish US reserves. The proposal also bans funding to the UN's Palestinian relief agency, UNRWA, while setting aside 9 billion for Palestinian humanitarian efforts, as demanded by Democrats.

The third bill earmarks 2 billion dollars in loans for Taiwan and Indo-Pacific allies to buy American arms, 1.9 billion for replacing arms provided to Taiwan, 3.3 billion for submarine development, 542 million for bolstering US military presence in the region, and 133 million for artillery and ammunition production upgrades.

"It's time for action"

"If we don’t help our friends in time of need, soon enough, we won’t have any friends at all." declared House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Cole, urging quick bill passage and Senate review. Rosa DeLauro, a high-ranking Democrat in the committee, echoed the call for action after Republican hesitation.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican, noted that votes are scheduled for Saturday evening, Eastern Time. An additional bill addressing asset confiscation from Russia, among other provisions, is due for release with the plan to vote on each bill separately before bundling them for the Senate. Despite right-wing pressure, a separate reform proposal for the US southern border will be put forward, decoupling it from the Ukraine aid issue.

Can the aid package be passed?

The minimal changes in the proposals might help break the longstanding stalemate over Ukraine aid. Yet, amending these bills could introduce complications.

"We're still reviewing the text, but it appears acceptable at first glance," stated a Democratic House representative. Given their majority status, Democrat support is crucial for passing the bills, suggesting a willingness to collaborate if the texts align closely with the Senate's original project.

However, far-right Republican congressmen, staunchly against the Ukraine aid, have expressed their displeasure. "There is no other way to describe it: it is surrender. I won’t support it," declared Congressman Matt Gaetz on CNN. Eli Crane mirrored this sentiment, deeming the package out of touch with the party's base. Meanwhile, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Thomas Massie have threatened to challenge Speaker Johnson's position, although Democrats hinted at supporting him if it ensures aid passage for Ukraine.

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