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US House to vote on Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan aid package

US House to vote on Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan aid package
3 min read
The US is set to hold a vote on an aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan on Saturday, along with a possible ban on TikTok.
The US House of Representatives will be holding the vote on Saturday [GETTY]

The US House of Representatives is poised to hold a crucial vote on Saturday on a major aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan and a possible ban on TikTok.

The votes on the $95 billion foreign aid and arms bills are expected to begin at 1:00pm (1700 GMT), and embattled Republican Speaker Mike Johnson will need Democratic votes to pass them.

The bills are the product of months of acrimonious negotiations, pressure from US allies and repeated pleas for assistance from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Spending bills cost the last Republican speaker of the House his job, and funding for Ukraine has been at the heart of the partisan squabbling.

The United States has been the chief military backer of Ukraine in its war against Russia, but Congress has not approved large-scale funding for its ally for nearly a year and a half, mainly because of the bickering across the political aisle.

President Joe Biden and Democratic lawmakers in Congress have been pushing for a major new weapons package for Ukraine for months.

However, Republicans, influenced by the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump, are reluctant to fund Kyiv for the drawn-out conflict.

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The financing of the war has become a point of contention ahead of a November presidential election expected to pit Biden against Trump once again.

After months of hesitation, Johnson finally supported a $61 billion package for Ukraine, including economic assistance and weapons.

"To put it bluntly, I'd rather send bullets to Ukraine than American boys," Johnson said.

The bill also allows Biden to confiscate and sell Russian assets and use the money to finance reconstruction in Ukraine, a move that other G7 nations have embraced.

'World is watching'

A total of $13 billion in military assistance has been allocated for America's historic ally Israel in its war on Gaza.

The money will essentially reinforce Israel's "Iron Dome" air defences.

More than $9 billion will be earmarked to address "the dire need for humanitarian assistance for Gaza as well as other vulnerable populations around the world," the legislation says.

At the request of Biden, some $8 billion would be used to counter China through investment in submarine infrastructure and boosting competition with Beijing on projects built in developing countries.

Several billion dollars would be devoted to weapons for Taiwan, the self-ruled island that China claims.

There is also a provision that would force TikTok to divest from its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, or face a nationwide ban in the United States, where it has around 170 million users.

Western officials have voiced alarm over TikTok's popularity among young people, alleging that it is subservient to Beijing and a conduit for spreading propaganda—claims denied by the company.

In a statement on Friday, the White House said it "strongly supports" the legislation.

"The world is watching what the Congress does," it said, adding that Biden would sign the bills as soon as both chambers of Congress passed them.

That could happen in just a matter of days, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has pledged that the Democratic-majority Senate will quickly take up the measures once the House passes them.

US allies are expected to welcome the bill's passage in the House warmly, but it could cost the Republican House speaker his job.

A handful of far-right-wing isolationist Republican lawmakers have warned they may oust Johnson for supporting the bills.