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Politico: Speaker Johnson expects to take up Ukraine aid bill with Democratic votes

by Kateryna Hodunova March 15, 2024 8:04 PM 2 min read
Newly elected Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) speaks in the chamber after his election at the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 25, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson said in an interview with Politico on March 14 that he expects to pass a future Ukraine aid bill with Democratic votes, adding that splitting Ukraine and Israel aid into two separate bills was "under consideration."

Aid for Ukraine has been stuck in the U.S. Congress since autumn 2023. The U.S. Senate on Feb. 13 passed a $95 billion foreign aid bill that includes $60 billion for Ukraine, as well as funds for Israel and other allies, but Johnson has so far refused to put it to a vote in the House of Representatives.

Some House Republicans are reportedly working on another version of the bill that would treat the nonmilitary portion of the package as a loan in hopes of winning support from more hesitant lawmakers.

Johnson said that aid to Ukraine and Israel could be provided as "one or even two separate bills," according to Politico. The speaker expects that it will happen through the House's suspension calendar, which he used previously to overcome the resistance from his own party.

Johnson would need a substantial number of Democratic votes as the suspension calendar requires a two-thirds majority to approve legislation on the House floor.

The speaker also announced publicly that the House of Representatives would go for foreign aid after a government funding plan is submitted by both chambers of Congress next week ahead of the upcoming partial shutdown deadline on March 22.

"I don't think leaders of either side of the aisle think that's a viable option," Johnson added, ruling out the idea of attaching foreign aid to the funding bill.

The Hill previously reported that Johnson suggested providing a Ukraine aid package as a loan or lend-lease program to benefit U.S. taxpayers.

The U.S. State Department criticized the Republicans' idea of providing aid to Ukraine as a loan, saying that it was "an appropriate step" to "saddle Ukraine with billions of dollars of foreign debt" during wartime.

Justice Minister Denys Maliuska said on March 13 that Ukraine would likely be willing to accept U.S. assistance partially in loans if it were necessary to expedite the funds.

US Senator Schumer in Lviv: ‘Without aid, Ukraine will lose war, with aid it will win’
Directing his comments to House Speaker Mike Johnson, Senator Richard Blumenthal said that the U.S. must “pay now, or pay later.”
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