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US House authorizes $61bn in Ukraine Military Assistance


After a long delay, the US House of Representatives has ultimately sanctioned over $61 billion in military aid to support Ukraine in its urgent efforts to defend itself against Russia. Additionally, substantial financial support has been allocated to other allies such as Israel and Taiwan.


210 Democrats and 101 Republicans voted to support Ukraine bipartisanly, but 112 Republicans, constituting most GOP members, voted against it. Following strong opposition within his Republican party, Republican speaker Mike Johnson introduced a series of proposals onto the floor. These bills aimed to provide more funds for Ukraine's defence.


The Senate is scheduled to start deliberations on Tuesday over the measure approved by the House, including some first votes in the afternoon. The anticipated delivery of the final passage is scheduled for some time next week, enabling Biden to endorse and enact it as law officially.


Voting started earlier than expected in an exceptional Saturday session, which delayed the House's scheduled break. When the Ukraine law was enacted, the House burst into celebration. The chair, Marc Molinaro of New York, warned the members not to wave Ukrainian flags.


Nancy Pelosi, the former Democratic Speaker, made a forceful appeal to highlight the vote's significance. She urged her colleagues to prioritize democracy and decency over autocracy and evil. Pelosi warned that choosing the path of Putin would result in responsibility for the bloodshed of innocent children and the horrifying act of mothers being raped in front of their parents and children.


Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the president of Ukraine, has issued a stark warning that his nation is at risk of losing the war without the support of the United States. Ukraine's military faces challenges due to ammunition and air defence shortages, while Russia has been gaining a significant edge regarding firepower. Congress's delay and indecisiveness have exacerbated this situation.


Right after the law was approved, ZelenskIy promptly expressed his appreciation to all parties, particularly Speaker Mike Johnson, for making a choice that ensures historical accuracy.


"Democracy and freedom will always possess worldwide importance and will never falter as long as America aids in safeguarding it," he said. The crucial US assistance package, approved by the House today, will prevent the escalation of the conflict, save many lives, and contribute to strengthening both our countries. Peace and security can only be achieved through strength. The proposals will get support in the Senate and be sent to President Biden for approval. Expressing gratitude, the Speaker acknowledges and appreciates the United States of America.


The members were casting their votes on a package valued at about $95 billion. However, the package was divided into four distinct measures. Johnson successfully separated the vote on Ukraine from the money for Israel, which has broader support from both Democrats and Republicans.


The House overwhelmingly approved the vote to provide supplementary funds for Israel, with 365 members in favour and just 57 members opposing. Among the opposition, there were 36 Democrats and 21 Republicans.


Johson divided the measure into four pieces to allow stubborn far-right members of his own GOP conference to vote according to their beliefs on the sections they disagreed with.


The first vote was cast on a measure including provisions regarding border security, which, as anticipated, did not pass. A significant number of conservative Republicans are opposed to the Biden administration receiving recognition for successfully addressing the problem at the US-Mexico border, which has seen a surge of asylum applicants, mainly because it is an election year. Donald Trump, the expected GOP presidential candidate, aims to prioritize the border as a critical topic in the next election.


The total funding amounts to $95 billion, with approximately $61 billion allocated to Ukraine to replenish American munitions. Israel will receive $26 billion, while US allies in the Indo-Pacific region, including Taiwan, will receive $8 billion. Additionally, $9 billion will be allocated for humanitarian assistance in war zones, such as Haiti, Sudan, and Gaza. However, the package includes a provision prohibiting direct US funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (Unrwa). This agency will provide crucial assistance to Gaza until March 2025.


Within the Ukraine bill, out of the total amount of $60.7 billion, about $23 billion would be allocated by the United States to replenish its military reserves, thus creating the opportunity for future military transfers to Ukraine. An additional $14 billion would be allocated to the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, under which the Pentagon would directly provide state-of-the-art armament equipment for the Ukrainian military from US defence firms.


Additionally, over $11 billion has been allocated to support ongoing military operations in the region, bolster the capabilities of the Ukrainian military, and promote intelligence cooperation between Kyiv and Washington. Furthermore, approximately $8 billion in non-military aid is aimed at helping Ukraine's government maintain essential operations, such as salary and pension payments.


The Ukrainian finance minister Sergii Marchenko highlighted the legislation's inclusion of budgetary assistance.


"This is the exceptional assistance we require to uphold financial stability and succeed," he said on X.


The measure resembles the foreign assistance proposal the Senate approved in February. However, it allocates $10 billion of the funds for Ukraine as a loan that must be repaid to satisfy some Republican senators.


The Israel bill allocates around $4.4 billion to restore the diminished US supplies provided to Israel. It also designates $4 billion for missile defence, namely the highly acclaimed Iron Dome system, and $1.2 billion for the Iron Beam. Additionally, $3.5 billion is allocated to assist Israel in purchasing weaponry. Additionally, there are measures in place to facilitate the transfer of US armaments stored in other nations to Israel.


The legislation aimed at helping American friends in the Asia-Pacific area, with a primary focus on Taiwan, allocated over $8 billion to oppose Chinese actions. This included around $3.3 billion for submarines and $2 billion for military aid to Taiwan.


One of the bills had a clause mandating the Chinese business Byte Dance to divest its widely used social media application TikTok. Congress is concerned that TikTok enables China to access information on American individuals. The measure, known as the 21st Century Peace through Strength Act, featured provisions for confiscating frozen Russian sovereign assets and further penalties targeting Iran.


The legislation that has been approved will be consolidated into a unified package to streamline the Senate's voting procedure. The Senate will then need to reauthorize the plan before it can be sent to President Joe Biden for signature.


Following the successful vote, Biden issued a statement expressing that the House members from both political parties have voted to promote our country's national security objectives and effectively demonstrate the influence of American leadership on the global arena. During this crucial turning point, they united to respond to the significant demand of history, swiftly enacting essential legislation for national security that I had been advocating for months.


This package will give crucial assistance to Israel and Ukraine, supply urgently needed humanitarian help to Gaza, Sudan, Haiti, and other areas affected by wars and natural catastrophes globally, and enhance security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. It arrives at a critical juncture as Israel confronts unparalleled assaults from Iran, and Ukraine remains under sustained bombardment from Russia. He urged the Senate to approve the measure "for me to enact it as law and expeditiously provide weapons and equipment to Ukraine to address their pressing battlefield requirements."


Johnson had to solicit assistance from Democrats across party lines to bring the proposals to a vote on the floor. The procedural vote to forward the matter to the floor yielded a result of 316-94, with 165 Democrats and 151 Republicans favouring the move.


Johnson's need for Democratic votes to secure the passage of crucial legislation, such as a significant government spending package approved by the House last month, has provoked intense anger from some far-right Republicans.


"What other concessions did Johnson make while pleading with Democrats for votes and security?" On Friday, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican congresswoman from Georgia, stated on X. "We no longer have a majority of Republicans. Our Republican Speaker is effectively under the control of the Democrats and is granting them all of their demands."


In the previous month, Greene introduced a proposal to oust Johnson from the position of Speaker, but she still needs to take action to compel a vote on this issue. Within the last week, two other House Republicans, including Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Paul Gosar of Arizona, have officially pledged their support as co-sponsors.


The Democrats have shown their willingness to back Johnson if the Republican far-right attempts to remove him from office due to his involvement in providing help to Ukraine.


In his recent address at the Capitol, Johnson emphasized the need to assist Ukraine. He acknowledged the possibility of his adversaries attempting to overthrow him within his party but maintained that helping Ukraine was crucial and morally justified.


"I have full confidence in the accuracy and reliability of the intelligence and briefings we have received," Johnson said. "I firmly believe that Xi, Vladimir Putin, and Iran form a significant alliance that can be considered an axis of evil." They are collaborating on this matter. Vladimir Putin is likely to persist in advancing across Europe.


"I will provide an opportunity for every member of the House to vote based on their own beliefs and desires," he said, further expressing, "I am prepared to take a personal gamble for this, as it is necessary for us to act morally." Moreover, future generations will assess our actions and decisions.


Since the commencement of the conflict over two years ago, the United States has provided Ukraine with over $111 billion in weaponry, equipment, humanitarian assistance, and other forms of aid.

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