Published On: Sun, Oct 29th, 2023
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Speaker Mike Johnson says he thinks standalone Israel aid bill will pass the House this week

New House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said Sunday that aid to Israel will be considered on the House floor in a standalone measure this week and expressed confidence that it would pass, resisting President Joe Biden’s call for Congress to provide a broader package that also includes aid to Ukraine.

“We’re going to move a standalone Israel funding bill this week in the House — I know our colleagues, our Republican colleagues in the Senate, have a similar measure,” Johnson said in an interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” adding that he believes there will be bipartisan support for the measure.

“There are lots of things going on around the world that we have to address, and we will,” Johnson said. “But right now, what’s happening in Israel takes the immediate attention and I think we’ve got to separate that and get it through.”

As of Sunday morning, more than 8,000 people, including women and children, have been killed in Gaza since Hamas’ deadly attack on Israel on Oct. 7, according to Palestinian health officials. In Israel, about 1,400 people have died.

Earlier this month, the White House asked Congress to provide more than $105 billion in aid to Ukraine and Israel as well as other national security needs. The request includes $61.4 billion in aid to Ukraine, and $14.3 billion to Israel. The White House requested $9.15 billion in aid for humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, Israel, Gaza “and other needs.”

The aid to Israel in the Biden administration’s request includes funding for the country’s air and missile defense systems’ readiness, including support for the Iron Dome. Money would also go toward replenishing Department of Defense stockpiles that the White House said “are being drawn down to support Israel in its time of need,” and increasing U.S. embassy security, according to a White House fact sheet.

A day after he won his bid for speaker that ended a 22-day stalemate in the House, Johnson met with President Joe Biden at the White House last week while attending a bipartisan briefing about the administration’s request to Congress for additional funding for national security.

The White House had submitted two new funding requests to Congress last week: $56 billion in additional domestic funding, including $23 billion for disaster relief, $16 billion for child care and $6 billion toward providing internet access to low-income households. Funding for national security and energy assistance, addressing the opioid epidemic and providing food assistance programs was also included in the request.

Before he was elected speaker, Johnson last month voted with 93 Republicans to cut off aid to Ukraine.

After he became speaker, Johnson said that he’s asked White House staff to “bifurcate” aid to Israel and Ukraine. He also stressed that the U.S. needs to take action against Russia to stop its advances.

“We can’t allow Vladimir Putin to prevail in Ukraine because I don’t believe it would stop there,” Johnson said in an interview on Fox News the day after he was sworn in. “And it would probably encourage and empower China to perhaps make a move on Taiwan. We have these concerns. We’re not going to abandon them.”

The move by Johnson renewed hope for the potential approval of additional aid to Ukraine. Johnson’s predecessor, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., had removed Ukraine funding from a late-September funding bill amid pressure from conservative hard-liners who stood against the aid and threatened to oust him if he caved to the Biden administration’s demands.

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