U.S. House passes $95 billion aid package infused with TikTok bill

    The U.S. House of Representatives on Saturday with broad bipartisan support passed a $95 billion legislative package providing security assistance to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, with the TikTok bill infused into the aid package, over bitter objections from Republican hardliners.

    The World News Herald
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    The legislation now proceeds to the Democratic-majority Senate, which passed a similar measure more than two months ago. U.S. leaders from Democratic President Joe Biden to top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell had been urging embattled Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson to bring it up for a vote.

    The Senate is set to begin considering the House-passed bill on Tuesday, with some preliminary votes that afternoon. Final passage was expected sometime next week, which would clear the way for Biden to sign it into law.

    The bills provide $60.84 billion to address the conflict in Ukraine, including $23 billion to replenish U.S. weapons, stocks and facilities; $26 billion for Israel, including $9.1 billion for humanitarian needs, and $8.12 billion for the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy expressed his thanks, saying U.S. lawmakers moved to keep “history on the right track.”

    The aid is still far from delivered

    It was unclear how quickly the new military funding for Ukraine will be depleted, likely causing calls for further action by Congress.

    Biden, who had urged Congress since last year to approve the additional aid to Ukraine, said in a statement: “It comes at a moment of grave urgency, with Israel facing unprecedented attacks from Iran and Ukraine under continued bombardment from Russia.”

    The vote on passage of the Ukraine funding was 311-112. Significantly, 112 Republicans opposed the legislation, with only 101 in support.

    “Mike Johnson is a lame duck … he’s done,” far-right Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene told reporters afterwards.

    She has been a leading opponent of helping Ukraine in its war against Russia and has taken steps that threaten to remove Johnson from office over this issue. Greene stopped short of doing so on Saturday, however.

    During the vote, several lawmakers waved small Ukrainian flags as it became clear that an element of the package was headed to passage. Johnson warned lawmakers that was a “violation of decorum.”

    Representative Bob Good, chair of the hardline House Freedom Caucus, told reporters on Friday that the bills represent a “slide down into the abyss of greater fiscal crisis and America-last policies that reflect Biden and (Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck) Schumer and (House Democratic leader Hakeem) Jeffries, and don’t reflect the American people.”

    But Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who carries huge influence in the party, on April 12 voiced support for Johnson and in a Thursday social media post said Ukraine’s survival is important for the U.S.

    The TikTok bill is infused into the aid package

    The unusual four-bill package also includes a measure that includes a threat to ban the social media app TikTok, along with the rest the government sees fit to announce as a threat to national security and the potential transfer of seized Russian assets to Ukraine.

    A bill released late Wednesday night would give ByteDance, the Chinese owner of the short-video social media app TikTok, up to a year to divest its U.S. assets or face a ban on its app being available in U.S. app stores or on U.S. web hosting services. That is double the six months that a bill the House passed last month would have allowed.

    The 21st Century Peace through Strength Act would also allow the federal government to transfer frozen Russian sovereign assets to Ukraine and expand sanctions against Iran and its oil production.

    In addition, the aid package contains several measures on Iran sanctions, including two that “could explicitly impact Iranian petroleum exports if implemented and enforced”, according to ClearView Energy Partners, a non-partisan research group. The U.S. already has numerous sanctions on Iran’s oil exports over its nuclear program, but the shipments have risen amid strong demand from China.


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