After months of blockade: US House of Representatives clears way for billions in aid to Ukraine

The US House of Representatives has voted for billions in aid for Ukraine.

After months of blockade: US House of Representatives clears way for billions in aid to Ukraine

The US House of Representatives has voted for billions in aid for Ukraine. The bill, worth around $61 billion, was one of four bills before the Republican-dominated chamber of Congress. The bill passed with a bipartisan majority of 311 to 112 in the chamber, where Republicans have a razor-thin majority.

The government of Democrat Joe Biden has been demanding the approval for months, which the military and allies have also described as urgently needed for the government in Kiev in the fight against Russia. The other three bills included money for Israel and Taiwan and a national security law. After being passed in the House of Representatives, the bills still need to be approved by the Senate.

There was applause in the plenary session after the vote. A number of MPs waved Ukrainian flags and shouted “Ukraine, Ukraine”. They were called to order. Numerous Republicans voted against the aid, but were unable to prevent its adoption with the help of President Biden's Democrats. The Republicans have a razor-thin majority in the chamber. The vote could cost the Republican leader of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, his job. Several radical MPs loyal to former President Donald Trump opposed aid to Ukraine.

The package provides about $23 billion for expanding the U.S. military inventory. The money therefore goes indirectly to Ukraine, as the USA usually supplies the country attacked by Russia with equipment from its stocks. The remainder is earmarked for further military support and financial assistance. The latter is designed as a loan. The text also states that Biden should provide Ukraine with long-range ATACMS missile systems “as soon as practicable.” Kiev has long hoped for the weapon system, whose missiles are fired from the ground at targets on the ground.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj thanked the US House of Representatives for approving the aid. He was grateful to both parties and personally to the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, "for the decision that keeps history on the right track," said Zelenskyj on the X platform (formerly Twitter) shortly after the vote. "Democracy and freedom will always have global significance and will never fail as long as America helps protect them."

The House of Representatives did not just vote in support of Kiev on Saturday. Chairman Johnson put further packages up for vote.

MPs also voted for a legislative package that provides $13 billion (12.2 billion euros) for Israel, to be used primarily to strengthen Israel's air defenses. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on the online service X after the US House of Representatives vote , the US House of Representatives is sending “a strong message to our enemies.” The "overwhelming" support of the new aid from Democrats and Republicans is evidence of "the strong relations and strategic partnership between Israel and the USA." Katz added that he now hopes for early approval from the US Senate.

Around $8 billion in support for Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific region as well as sanctions against Iran and the confiscation of Russian assets are also assumed.

The Senate had actually already voted in February for a billion-dollar aid package requested by Biden. This also provided for billions in aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. However, there was never a vote in the House of Representatives because an internal party power struggle was raging in the Republican-dominated chamber. Chairman Johnson is under a lot of pressure, especially from the right-wing fringe of his party.

The hard-right Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene submitted a first request for his deselection at the end of March, and two other members of the party later joined the party. For them, the vote on Ukraine aid is a red line. It remains to be seen whether Greene will actually push for a vote on Johnson's removal. If she were to do so, Johnson would probably also have to rely on the support of the Democrats here because of the narrow majority in the chamber. He could probably count on them, since they have been pushing for aid to Ukraine for months.

The USA is considered Ukraine's most important ally in the fight against the Russian invasion. Since the war began in February 2022, President Biden's administration has provided more than $44 billion in military assistance to Kyiv. There are also billions more in non-military financial aid. According to the US government, the funds approved by Congress have been used up - which is why the vote on new aid is of great importance.

In addition, the US House of Representatives has again voted with a large bipartisan majority for a law that would bring the popular short video app Tiktok from China under American control. The law could lead to Tiktok being banned from American app stores if the service remains owned by the Chinese company Bytedance. The draft stipulates a nine-month deadline for a sale. US President Joe Biden can extend this by another three months.

Tiktok is the only internationally successful online platform that does not come from the USA. ByteDance is viewed across all parties in the USA as a Chinese company that must bow to the will of the Chinese Communist Party. The US House of Representatives had already approved a similar draft in March, which envisages a deadline of six months for the sale, which some have criticized as being too short. This is currently stuck in the Senate.

Editor's note: This article has been updated several times.

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