Home Economy News Long-awaited aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan poised to pass US Congress

Long-awaited aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan poised to pass US Congress


By Patricia Zengerle and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Billions of dollars in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan should easily win approval in the U.S. Senate this week, after the House of Representatives abruptly ended a months-long stalemate and approved the assistance in a rare Saturday session.

The Senate on Tuesday will take up the package of four bills passed by the House, one providing $61 billion for Ukraine, a second with $26 billion for Israel, a third with $8.12 billion “to counter communist China” in the Indo-Pacific and a fourth that includes a potential ban on the social media app TikTok, measures for the transfer of seized Russian assets to Ukraine and new sanctions on Iran.

The package could pass the Democratic-led Senate as soon as late Tuesday, and head to the White House, where Democratic President Joe Biden has promised to sign it quickly into law.

That would clear the way for shipments of military assistance to Ukraine within days, providing a morale boost as its troops fight Russian invaders. The influx of weapons should improve Kyiv’s chances of averting a major Russian breakthrough in the east, analysts said, although it would have been more helpful if the aid had come closer to when Biden requested it last year.

It was not immediately clear how the money for Israel would affect the conflict in Gaza – Israel already receives billions of dollars in security assistance from the United States. The package includes humanitarian assistance, which supporters hope will help Palestinians in Gaza.

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The Israel bill passed the House by an overwhelming 366 to 58 – with 21 Republicans and 37 Democrats opposed. The Republican “no” votes came from hardliners who generally oppose foreign aid. Democrats who voted no said they wanted more done to ease the devastating humanitarian toll of Israel’s campaign in Gaza as it retaliates for the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas fighters that killed 1,200 people and resulted in around 250 being taken hostage.

The Israeli military assault that followed those attacks has killed more than 34,000 people in Gaza, according to Gaza health authorities.

The Senate passed security aid for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific more than two months ago, with the support of 70% of the 100-member chamber, both Republicans and Democrats.

“The House has acted, now it’s the Senate’s turn, and the finish line is now in sight,” Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement after the House vote. “To our friends in Ukraine, to our allies in NATO, to our allies in Israel, and to civilians around the world in need of aid: rest assured America will deliver yet again.”

The White House said Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a phone call on Monday that his administration would provide new security assistance “to meet Ukraine’s urgent battlefield and air defense needs” as soon as he signs the supplemental spending bills into law.

Congressional aides said the funding for Ukraine includes $8 billion in Presidential Drawdown Authority, which lets Biden send equipment to Ukraine from U.S. stocks.

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The House passed the Ukraine funding by 311-112, with all 112 “no” votes coming from Republicans, many of whom were bitterly opposed to providing further assistance to Kyiv. Only 101 Republicans voted for it, forcing Speaker Mike Johnson to rely on Democratic support and prompting calls for his ouster as House leader.

However, the House left Washington for a week-long recess, without triggering a vote to remove Johnson.

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