US foreign policy

Republican leader finally announces Ukraine, Israel war aid vote

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The Republican leader in the House of Representatives announced Wednesday a vote on renewing long-delayed US military aid to Ukraine, as well as to Israel.

The move sets up a showdown with his own far-right wing that for months has blocked helping the outgunned Ukrainian forces.

For the latest updates on the Israel-Palestine conflict, visit our dedicated page.

“We expect the vote on final passage on these bills to be on Saturday evening,” Speaker Mike Johnson announced.

With Ukraine struggling to hold back Russia in the third year of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, Johnson faces huge pressure from the White House and much of Congress to allow the lower house to vote for aid already approved in the Senate.

However, with loyalists to former US President Donald Trump holding the balance of power in his party, the speaker’s own position hangs by a thread.

The announcement by Johnson came shortly after President Joe Biden described Ukraine and Israel as two US allies desperate for help in their conflicts.

“While both countries can capably defend their own sovereignty, they depend on American assistance, including weaponry, to do it. And this is a pivotal moment,” Biden wrote in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.

Biden called the Senate-approved version of the Ukraine and Israel aid package “strong and sensible.”

“It shouldn’t be held hostage any longer by a small group of extreme Republican House members,” he said.

Investing in America

Biden argued in the Journal that the aid is needed to help Ukraine, which is running out of ammunition, and Israel in the wake of last weekend’s mass Iranian drone attack.

But he said the assistance is just as important for US security.

“Both Ukraine and Israel are under attack by brazen adversaries that seek their annihilation. Mr Putin wants to subjugate the people of Ukraine and absorb their nation into a new Russian empire. The government of Iran wants to destroy Israel forever -- wiping the world’s only Jewish state off the map,” Biden wrote.

“America must never accept either outcome - not only because we stand up for our friends, but because our security is on the line, too.”

In an attempt to address Republican criticism that the United States cannot afford to spend money on Ukraine’s fight against Russia, Biden said it would not be “blank checks.”

The weaponry for Ukraine would be built in US factories, he said.

“We’d be investing in America’s industrial base, buying American products made by American workers, supporting jobs in nearly 40 states, and strengthening our own national security. We’d help our friends while helping ourselves,” Biden said.

He also sought to allay concerns about the aid to Israel within his own Democratic party, where growing numbers of members oppose arming Israel during its devastating war against Hamas in civilian-packed Gaza.

The bill approved by the Senate, Biden said, includes funding to “continue delivering urgent humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza.”

Read more: US officials say military shot down Iranian drones headed for Israel

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