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White House: Johnson's Ukraine, Israel proposal appears to cover desired aid, more details needed

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk April 16, 2024 9:05 PM 2 min read
U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby speaks during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on March 21, 2023. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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The White House believes that House Speaker Mike Johnson's proposal on a series of foreign aid bills for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan appears "at first blush" to cover the necessary assistance, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on April 16.

This seems to soften an earlier statement by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who said that Joe Biden's administration would "not accept a standalone" Israel aid bill.

U.S. assistance for Ukraine has been effectively blocked for months, leading to the rapidly deteriorating situation on the battlefield. While the Senate passed a $95 billion foreign aid bill for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan in February, Johnson said he instead plans to hold a vote on four separate bills in his chamber this week.

"The important thing is that our allies like Ukraine and Israel who are under the gun, literally under the gun, get the security assistance they need as soon as possible. So we want them to move this week," Kirby told reporters on Air Force One, The Hill reported.

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"It does appear at first blush that the speaker's proposal will, in fact, help us get aid to Ukraine, aid to Israel, and needed resources to the Indo-Pacific for a wide range of contingencies there. At first blush it looks like that, we just want to get more details."

Kirby said that "separate is not a deal-breaker" as long as assistance for both Israel and Ukraine are to be considered.

Democratic lawmakers were also cautious about making a clear statement on Johnson's proposed bills before seeing more details.

"I am reserving judgment on what will come out of the House until we see more about the substance of the proposal and the process by which the proposal will proceed," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

If passed in this form, it could postpone the final approval of the Ukraine aid bill for weeks, as it would have to travel back to the Senate for another vote. The situation is further complicated by hardline Republicans, who oppose assistance for Ukraine altogether. There are fears that the party's right flank would seek to oust Johnson if he moves forward with the bill.

The United States' delay in providing assistance to Ukraine has directly affected the battlefield, leading to the loss of the crucial front-line city of Avdiivka.

With the situation escalating on the eastern front and Russian assaults intensifying on energy infrastructure, President Volodymyr Zelensky emphasized that the failure of the U.S. Congress to approve military aid could result in Ukraine losing the war.

Johnson plans separate House votes on Israel, Ukraine aid
U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson plans to hold separate votes this week on new assistance packages for Israel and Ukraine, aiming to assemble fragile coalitions to support both embattled allies.
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