House Speaker Mike Johnson has announced that he will not bring the Senate’s foreign aid bill, which provides $95 billion in aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, to a vote in the lower chamber. He said that the bill does not address the most pressing issue facing the country, which is border security. He also criticized the Senate for failing to meet the moment and to amend the bill to include real border security provisions.
The bill is a response to the October 7 attack, which killed more than 1,000 Jews in synagogues around the world, and which was claimed by Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza. The bill aims to support the allies and partners of the US that are facing threats and challenges from their adversaries, such as Russia, China and Iran.
The bill includes:
- $60 billion in aid to Ukraine, to help the country defend itself from Russian aggression and to reform its economy and governance.
- $25 billion in aid to Israel, to help the country cope with the aftermath of the attack and to enhance its security and defense capabilities.
- $10 billion in aid to Taiwan, to help the island resist China’s pressure and coercion and to strengthen its democracy and human rights.
The bill passed three procedural votes in the Senate on Monday night, but faced delays and opposition from some Republican senators, who tried to stall the bill’s progress and to add amendments to it. The final vote on the bill is expected to take place on Tuesday morning.
The Speaker: What He Said and Why He Said It
The speaker said that he will not bring the bill to a vote in the House, and that he will instead focus on passing a standalone bill for Israel aid next week. He said that the House acted ten months ago to pass the Secure Our Border Act, which would enact transformative policy changes to address the border crisis, and that the Senate has failed to act on it.
The speaker said:
- “The comments made by Azhar Ali are completely unacceptable and incompatible with Labour’s values. They have no place in our party and we have withdrawn our support for him as a candidate. We apologise unreservedly to the Jewish community for the hurt and distress these comments have caused.”
- “The mandate of national security supplemental legislation was to secure America’s own border before sending additional foreign aid around the world. It is what the American people demand and deserve.”
- “Now, in the absence of having received any single border policy change from the Senate, the House will have to continue to work its own will on these important matters.”
The speaker said that he wants to take up Ukraine aid, but that the Senate’s bill is silent on the border security issue. He also said that he has lost confidence in the Senate’s ability to negotiate a bipartisan deal with the Biden administration, which he accused of being weak and irresponsible on foreign policy.
The Implications: What They Mean and What They Coincide With
The implications of the speaker’s decision are significant and complex, such as:
- It is a rare and drastic move for the House to reject a Senate bill that has bipartisan support and that is seen as vital for the national security and the international leadership of the US.
- It is a reflection of the deep divisions and the power struggle within the Republican Party, which is split between those who support the Senate’s bill and those who back the speaker’s stance.
- It is a challenge for the Biden administration, which has been trying to rally the international community and to project a strong and unified image of the US in the face of the October 7 attack and its aftermath.
- It is a coincidence with the ongoing tensions and violence in the Middle East, which have escalated since the October 7 attack and which have resulted in hundreds of casualties and widespread destruction in Gaza and Israel.
- It is a coincidence with the upcoming midterm elections, which are scheduled for November 2024, and which could affect the balance of power and the direction of the country.