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House divides votes on aid to Ukraine and Israel while Chairman Johnson defies his right flank

WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives voted 316-94 to increase votes on four separate bills that include aid to Ukraine and Israel, a good sign for the prospects of Congress approving U.S. funding for the two countries after months of delays and partisan fighting.

Speaker Mike Johnson, which faced stiff opposition from right-wing members, received crucial help from Democrats to move forward with the votes. More Democrats (165) than Republicans (151) voted for the “rule,” a procedural step to regulate voting.

The measure sets up four House votes expected Saturday afternoon: one on aid to Israel, another on aid to Ukraine, another on security in the Indo-Pacific region and a fourth bill that includes a bill intended to ban TikTok to be banned in the US if it does not divest from its China-based owner, as well as various national security priorities. If passed, the measures would be combined and sent to the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Mike Johnson (Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

Mike Johnson (Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

All told, the foreign aid measures look a lot like the $95 billion national security package that was pushed President Joe Biden. The Senate would have to approve it again, due to some differences from the version passed by the Senate in February.

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“The world is watching what Congress does. Passage of this legislation would send a strong message about the strength of American leadership at a crucial time,” the White House Budget Office said in a statement Friday endorsing the House package. “The Administration urges both houses of Congress to quickly send this additional funding package to the President’s desk.”

The House move followed a 9-3 vote in the Government Committee late Thursday to send the bills to the floor for a final vote, with representatives. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., Chip Roy, R-Texas and Ralph Norman, R-S.C., who broke with Johnson and voted no. But all four Democrats on the committee voted in favor of the rule and saved it, an extremely unusual move for the minority party.

“We only control one chamber, and I have very little control over that,” Johnson said on Newsmax on Thursday, explaining why he could not include the Republican Party’s immigration measures in the package as some wanted. “The Senate will not advance our legislation and the President will not sign it. … I have at least a handful of my Republicans who don’t want to put forward a line to bring that up and combine it with Ukraine. and Israel financing. They won’t do that. And so if I don’t have Republican votes, that means we have to have Democratic votes.”

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Johnson’s decision to move forward with the bills comes as two of his members — Massie and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. – threaten to remove him as speaker. She and many other conservatives in the House of Representatives oppose additional aid to Ukraine.

“We’ll see what happens. I’m going to do my job. I won’t be deterred by threats,” Johnson said Friday. “We’re going to do the right thing and let the chips fall where they may.”

But Johnson, who opposed aid to Ukraine last year before becoming chairman, now says he believes it is “critically important” based on the intelligence and briefings he has received since.

“I think Vladimir Putin would continue marching through Europe if he were allowed to,” he told reporters this week.

“I’d rather send bullets to Ukraine than to American guys,” Johnson said, adding that his son will attend the Naval Academy this fall. “This is a real target practice for me because it concerns so many American families. This is not a game, this is not a joke.”

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The fourth bill includes a provision to force China-based ByteDance to sell TikTok within nine months, which the president can extend to a year or face a ban in the US. The provision, which has both Senate and Biden support, brings TikTok closer than ever to a ban in the country.

Democrats praised the move to vote in the House of Representatives, underscoring their party’s key role.

“It is vital that Congress takes action to send aid to support Ukraine and deter Russian aggression,” said Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., said on X. “We may be in the minority, but we are not going to let this urgent mission fail. Democrats are doing whatever it takes to make sure Ukraine gets help.”

Representative Grace Meng, D-N.Y., said The Democrats were effectively in charge: “We may be in the minority in the House of Representatives right now, but @RepJeffries is already essentially functioning as the real Speaker. The R’s couldn’t get their own bills out of the committee they control, so D’s had to help work horses, not just show horses.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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