WASHINGTON, D.C. - Over the weekend, the House passed a foreign aid package totaling about $95-billion dollars, which will deliver funds for Ukraine, Israel and US allies in the Indo Pacific. House Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R- LA) decision to put the bills up for a vote comes after months of Republican infighting and debate over additional aid for Ukraine. 

Congress has been deeply divided on this foreign aid, especially the additional $61-billion dollars for Ukraine. The House voted Saturday on the four different bills: aid for Ukraine, Israel, the Indo Pacific and a fourth bill that included some GOP priorities like sanctions for Iran and legislation that can lead to a nationwide ban of the social media app TikTok. 

Speaker Johnson had to work with Democrats to pass the Ukraine aid. There were 101 Republicans that voted for it and 112 that voted against it, including some of our local members. 

One of them was New York Congressman Nick Langworthy (R- NY). He commented on his decision to vote ‘no’ on the Ukraine legislation: 

The House also chose to send additional aid to Ukraine — I've always been supportive and sympathetic to Ukraine's efforts to defeat Putin, but I could not in good conscience vote for the $60 billion aid bill as it was crafted. My priority will always be listening to my constituents and doing what's right for them. This legislation included provisions beyond military assistance to include $7.85 billion for the salaries, pensions, and “other needs of Ukraine’s government employees.” It also contains a so-called $9.85 billion “loan” for Ukraine’s infrastructure and energy development that allows the U.S. President to unilaterally and without any input from the elected Members of Congress to forgive half the loan after this election and the rest after the midterms. Does anyone think that money will actually be returned to the US taxpayer? While far too many hardworking families are struggling to make ends meet and putting their groceries on their credit cards as a result of our government’s inflationary spending, the last thing we should be doing is paying the salary of a Ukrainian bureaucrat. It’s just wrong.” 

Pennsylvania Representatives Mike Kelly (R- PA) and Glenn Thompson (R- PA) voted for Ukraine. Kelly also released in a statement why he voted for the legislation: 

In recent months, we have seen Vladimir Putin gain the upper hand in Ukraine, further threatening stability across Europe. This money will allow us to build more weapons here at home and replenish America's defense industrial base.” 

Speaker Johnson has been under immense pressure from hardline conservatives who are against sending more aid to Ukraine. However, Johnson defied their warnings and could face a motion to vacate because of it. 

“As I've said many times, I don't walk around this building being worried about a motion to vacate,” said Speaker Johnson following the House vote on Saturday. “I have to do my job, you do the right thing and you let the chips fall where they may.” 

Members are gone this week so we will have to see if those disgruntled Republicans will move forward with that motion to vacate. 

Meanwhile in the Senate, members are expected to vote on this on Wednesday or Thursday. President Biden told Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy when the Senate passes it, he will sign it and send the weapons and funds to them as soon as possible.