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  • Writer's pictureOlga Nesterova

House Unveils Ukraine Aid Bill Amid Controversial Amendments

US Capitol in Washington DC by Tetra Images/Henryk Sadura/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
Tetra Images/Henryk Sadura/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

The House of Representatives unveiled the text of a new bill supporting Ukraine, spearheaded by Speaker Mike Johnson, with a vote slated for Saturday evening, April 20, 2024.


The Facts


Comparing it to the Senate's previous version, the new bill doesn't deviate significantly, with approximately $61 billion earmarked for Ukraine, covering military assistance and US stockpile programs. This enables the Pentagon to furnish Kiev with weaponry from its arsenals and procure additional armaments from its partners in the industry.


A notable difference lies in the economic aid, structured as a loan but with provisions for presidential forgiveness. Half the debt could be waived post-November elections, and the remainder not before 2026, pivoting on electoral outcomes.


Additionally, a provision urges the president to supply Kyiv with long-range ATACMs, proposed by Republican congressman McCaul, though not obligatory, leaving the final decision to the White House and the Pentagon.


The bill also outlines a "Strategy for Ukraine," emphasizing the US's aim to assist Ukraine in prevailing in the conflict.


Furthermore, a separate bill, leveraging seized Russian assets for Ukraine's benefit, was published by the House of Representatives.


Congress has until Saturday to review and amend the bill, potentially garnering broader support but also complicating the voting process.


The Response


According to the Associated Press, President Joe Biden has voiced support for Johnson's bill to provide aid to Ukraine, as well as the newly introduced bills concerning the aid for Israel and Taiwan, contingent upon congressional approval. Should it clear both chambers, the President pledges prompt endorsement.


As seen on C-SPAN, Speaker Mike Johnson stressed the urgency of providing lethal aid to Ukraine, citing Putin's expansionist ambitions and Johnson’s personal familial stakes, echoing sentiments of many American families with members in or entering military service.


"Providing lethal aid to Ukraine right now is critically important. Putin will continue to march through Europe if he is allowed to. I would rather send bullets to Ukraine than our boys,” - Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Mike Johnson


Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor-Greene proposed several amendments to the foreign aid bills, reflecting her staunch support for Trump and the MAGA movement, which could impede the bill's progress and Speaker Johnson's political standing.


Her amendments include:


1. Members who vote for Ukraine aid must conscript in the Ukrainian Army.

2. Israel aid to be used for the development of "space laser technology" on the Southern border.

3. No Ukraine aid can be expended until Ukraine "closes all bio-laboratories."

4. No Ukraine aid can be expended until Secretary Of State Anthony Blinken provides a report certifying that churches in Ukraine "are able to operate free of government interference."

5. Ukraine bill: All the money in the bill is reduced to 0 and instead provided to FEMA to give to Lahaina, Hawaii.

6. Ukraine bill: All the money in the bill is reduced to 0 and instead provided to FEMA to give to East Palestine, Ohio.

7. Ukraine bill: "Use the money to start deporting aliens without legal status in the United States."


Ukrainian-born Representative Victoria Spartz of Indiana, whose Ukrainian hometown was attacked as recently as yesterday, has also introduced an amendment to the bill. Her proposal calls for the removal of the aid provision for children and families refugee assistance.


Despite the bill's promise and timeliness, uncertainties linger over Speaker Johnson's political future amidst backlash from MAGA-aligned representatives and the potential for delay or damage caused by proposed amendments.


This article will be updated with further amendments and introductions concerning the bill for further assistance for Ukraine.



 


Sources: Congress.gov, rules.house.gov, Reuters, Associated Press, reporting from accounts of Kareem Rifai and Ostap Yarysh on X

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