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The House approved lots of money for Ukraine and Israel after struggling for months. Next, the Senate will vote on it

The House has approved a $95 billion package of foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies after months of turmoil on Capitol Hill. Congressional leaders pushed aside opposition from hard-right conservatives to complete the bill in a rare

By STEPHEN GROVES and LISA MASCARO (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House quickly agreed to provide $95 billion in aid to foreign countries such as Ukraine, Israel, and other U.S. allies in a rare Saturday session. This happened after Democrats and Republicans worked together after facing strong opposition over renewed American support for stopping Russia’s invasion.

The $61 billion in aid specifically for Ukraine was approved with a strong majority, showing a united front as American lawmakers rushed to provide more support to the war-torn ally. Many Democrats cheered and waved Ukrainian flags on the House floor.

Aid for Israel and other allies also received approval by large margins, as did a measure to control the popular platform TikTok, with different groups forming alliances to support the separate bills. The entire package will now go to the Senate, which could pass it as soon as Tuesday. President Joe Biden has promised to sign it immediately.

“We did our work here, and I believe history will view it positively,” said a tired Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., who risked his own job to ensure the package was approved.

Biden, in a statement, thanked Johnson, Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, and the bipartisan group of lawmakers “who voted to prioritize our national security.”

“I urge the Senate to quickly send this package to my desk so that I can sign it into law and we can quickly send weapons and equipment to Ukraine to meet their urgent battlefield needs,” the president said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine said he was “grateful” to both parties in the House and “especially Speaker Mike Johnson for the decision that keeps history on the right track,” he said on X, formerly Twitter.

“Thank you, America!” he said.

The scene in Congress was a clear demonstration of action after months of dysfunction and deadlock caused by Republicans, who have the majority but are deeply divided over foreign aid, especially for Ukraine. Johnson depended on Democrats to ensure the military and humanitarian funding — the first major package for Ukraine since December 2022 — was approved.

The morning began with a thoughtful and serious debate, with Republican and Democratic leaders coming together to request quick approval, emphasizing that this would show the United States supporting its allies and maintaining a leading role on the global stage. The House’s visitor galleries were full of spectators.

“The attention of the world is on us, and history will judge what we do here and now,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee

Passage through the House removed the biggest obstacle to Biden’s funding request, first made in October as Ukraine’s military supplies started running low.

The GOP-controlled House struggled for months over what to do, first demanding that any assistance for Ukraine be tied to policy changes at the U.S.-Mexico border, only to immediately reject a bipartisan Senate offer along those very lines.

Reaching the final stage has been a painful process for Johnson. excruciating lift for Johnson that has tested both his determination and his backing among Republicans, with a small but increasing number now openly urging his removal from the speaker’s office. Yet congressional leaders view the votes as a crucial sacrifice as U.S. allies are besieged by conflicts and threats from continental Europe to the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific.

“Sometimes when you are living history, as we are today, you don’t understand the significance of the actions of the votes that we make on this House floor, of the effect that it will have down the road,” said New York Rep. Gregory Meeks, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “This is a historic moment.”

Opponents, especially the hard-right Republicans from Johnson’s majority, argued that the U.S. should focus on domestic issues, such as border security and the nation’s increasing debt, and they cautioned against spending more money, which mostly goes to American defense manufacturers, to create weapons used overseas.

Still, Congress has seen a stream of world leaders visit in recent months, from Zelenskyy to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, all but pleading with lawmakers to approve the aid. Globally, the delay left many questioning America’s commitment to its allies.

At stake has been one of Biden’s top foreign policy priorities — halting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s advance in Europe. After engaging in quiet talks with Johnson, the president quickly endorsed Johnson’s plan, paving the way for Democrats to give their rare support to clear the procedural hurdles needed for a final vote.

“We have a responsibility, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans to defend democracy wherever it is at risk,” Jeffries said during the debate.

While aid for Ukraine failed to win a majority of Republicans, several dozen progressive Democrats voted against the bill aiding Israel as they demanded an end to the bombardment of Gaza that has killed thousands of civilians. A group of roughly 20 hard-right Republicans voted against every portion of the aid package, including for allies like Israel and Taiwan that have traditionally enjoyed support from the GOP.

At the same time, Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has loomed large over the fight, weighing in from afar via social media statements and direct phone calls with lawmakers as he tilts the GOP to a more isolationist stance with his “America First” brand of politics.

Ukraine’s defense once enjoyed robust, bipartisan support in Congress, but as the war enters its third year, a majority of Republicans opposed further aid. Trump ally Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., offered an amendment to zero out the money, but it was rejected.

The ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus has derided the legislation as the “America Last” foreign wars package and urged lawmakers to defy Republican leadership and oppose it because the bills did not include border security measures.

Johnson’s hold on the speaker’s gavel has also grown more tenuous in recent days as three Republicans, led by Greene, supported a “motion to vacate” that can lead to a vote on removing the speaker. Egged on by far-right personalities, she is also being joined by a growing number of lawmakers including Reps. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky., who is urging Johnson to voluntarily step aside.

The package contained a number of things that Republicans wanted, and Democrats either agreed to or were willing to accept. These included allowing the U.S. to take control of Russia's frozen central bank assets to help Ukraine, imposing sanctions on Iran, Russia, China, and criminal groups that deal fentanyl, and requiring the Chinese owner of TikTok to sell its ownership in a year or else be banned in the U.S. legislation The Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that the Senate would start voting on the package on Tuesday, emphasizing the importance of the moment for allies around the world.

Top lawmakers on national security committees, who have access to classified information, have become very worried about the war's impact on Ukraine as Russia continues to attack Ukrainian forces facing a shortage of troops. The House has already approved a $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and other U.S. allies after facing opposition from conservative members. The package will now go to the Senate, which is expected to pass it soon. President Joe Biden has committed to signing the package into law. and ammunition.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the Senate would begin procedural votes on the package Tuesday, saying, “Our allies across the world have been waiting for this moment.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, as he prepared to overcome objections from his right flank next week, said, “The task before us is urgent. It is once again the Senate’s turn to make history.”

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