US House to vote on Israel aid package following Iran attack

Speaker vows to bring proposal to vote this week after two failed attempts to pass bill including money for Ukraine and Taiwan alongside Israel

Rep. Mike Johnson, Republican-Louisiana, takes the oath to be the new House speaker at the Capitol in Washington, October 25, 2023. (Alex Brandon/AP)
Rep. Mike Johnson, Republican-Louisiana, takes the oath to be the new House speaker at the Capitol in Washington, October 25, 2023. (Alex Brandon/AP)

US House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson said on Sunday he would try to pass aid to Israel this week after Iran’s mass drone and missile attack.

Johnson, who is struggling to unify his fractious Republican majority and avoid an ouster threat, recounted two failed attempts to pass standalone aid for Israel since October 7.

Opponents of the proposal accused Johnson of staging political ploys to distract from the House leader’s opposition to a failed bipartisan Senate bill from last month that encompassed aid for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.

The House leader did not say whether this week’s legislation would also include assistance for Ukraine and other allies.

“We’re going to try again this week, and the details of that package are being put together right now. We’re looking at the options, and all these supplemental issues,” Johnson told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” program.

Iran launched hundreds of drones and missiles in its first-ever direct attack on Israeli territory last Saturday night, raising the threat of open warfare between the two countries that could deteriorate into a regional war involving the United States.

US forces played a major role in fending off Iran’s strike this weekend by notifying Israel of the impending drones and missiles while intercepting many en route. After the attack ended early Sunday morning, US President Joe Biden informed Israel that it would not join the IDF in attacking Iran if it chose to do so.

Representative Mike Turner, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he expected the House would pass a broad aid bill this week.

“I think it will have overwhelming support both the Ukraine, Israel and Asia packages, not just because of what’s happened with Iran escalating the conflict in the Middle East, but because these are allies that need and deserve our support,” Turner said.

Johnson spoke after House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, said the House will respond to Iran’s attack with “legislation that supports our ally Israel and holds Iran and its terrorist proxies accountable,” without offering specifics.

Johnson was expected to meet later on Sunday with lawmakers focused on national security issues, including House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul.

McCaul said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that it was Johnson’s decision on when and how to bring Ukraine aid up for a vote, but that it needed to be done. “We don’t have time on our side here,” McCaul said. “We have to get this done.”

The House remains deeply divided over providing further assistance to Ukraine. No major aid package has passed for Kyiv since Republicans took control of the chamber in January 2023.

While some House members strongly support the aid and predict it would pass with 70% support in the chamber if Johnson allowed a vote, many of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s House allies oppose aid to Ukraine, favoring spending on domestic issues.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has threatened to oust Johnson as speaker over issues including his support for Ukraine.

The White House and top Democrats and Republicans in the Senate called on Johnson to approve a $95 billion bipartisan Senate-passed package that would provide $14.1 billion in aid to Israel and $60 billion to Ukraine.

“They should put it on the floor as soon as possible,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told “Meet the Press.”

Johnson has refused to take up the Senate bill. Instead, he has sought to craft his own legislation, with Ukraine aid structured as a loan at the behest of Trump.

“He and I are 100% united on these bigger items,” Johnson said of Trump, after meeting with the former president on Friday in Florida.

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