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Here's what's in the House foreign aid bills

House Speaker Mike Johnson speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on April 16.
Julia Nikhinson
/
AFP via Getty Images
House Speaker Mike Johnson speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on April 16.

Updated April 19, 2024 at 3:30 PM ET

The Republican foreign aid package passed a key procedural hurdle in the House on Friday, after Democrats provided the necessary votes to offset dozens of GOP defections.

The House voted 316-94 to advance aid bills to Israel, Taiwan and Ukraine, setting up a Saturday vote on final passage.

In a rare occurrence, Democrats also stepped in Thursday night to help the majority party advance the bills out of the rules committee.

Three Republicans voted against the rule in committee — Reps. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and Chip Roy of Texas.

House Speaker Mike Johnson's proposal earlier this week to split up foreign aid into separate billscaused pushback from members within his own party, who pointed to promises Johnson had made not to move forward with a Ukraine aid bill without a measure to strengthen security along the U.S. southern border.

The foreign aid bills are similar to a $95 billion package that passed in the Senate in February.

Additionally, Johnson put forth a fourth bill aimed at implementing sanctions and policies to counter China, Iran and Russia. That was not part of the Senate version, but it may have momentum to go through alongside the foreign aid bills.

President Biden said in a statement Wednesday that he supports the package.

Here's a closer look at what's in these bills.

Increased aid to Israel

There were renewed calls for lawmakers to take up aid to Israel after Iran launched an unprecedented attack on Israel over the weekend.

The House package would allocate $26.4 billion in aid for Israel to "defend itself against Iran and its proxies, and to reimburse U.S. military operations in response to recent attacks."

The Senate-passed packaged designated $14 billion for Israel and $9 billion for humanitarian assistance in the region. The House bill lumps these together.

Four billion dollars are designated to replenish the Iron Domeand David's Sling missile defense systems, with another $1.2 billion for the Iron Beam defense system. The bill also provides $2.4 billion for current U.S. military operations in response to recent attacks.

The House bill provides weapons Israel says it needs in both the short term and well into the future. The measure would replenish the air defense interceptors that Israel has been using to shoot down some 15,000 rockets Hamas has fired out of Gaza over the past six months.

That Hamas fire has all but ceased now that Israel's military controls most of Gaza. But Israel says it needs to be resupplied to guard against future attacks. This includes defense against the Lebanese group Hezbollah, which trades almost daily fire with Israel along their shared border. And in the most recent development, Israel, with help from the U.S. and others, shot down virtually all of the more than 300 weapons Iran launched in its weekend attack.

Israel is also seeking advanced weapons, like fighter jets, that have to be built from scratch and would not arrive for several years.

The bill prohibits funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Israel has alleged that a dozen UNRWA staffers took part in Hamas' attack on Israel on Oct. 7. UNRWA said it was "taking swift action" after Israel presented it with evidence, and the Biden administration decided to pause funding for the agency.

$60.8 billion for Ukraine aid

Earlier this week, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner, R-Ohio, and Ranking Member Jim Himes, D-Conn., urged passage of Ukraine aid after receiving a classified briefing from the intelligence community and senior officials from the Departments of Defense and State.

"We must pass Ukraine aid now," they said. "The United States must stand against Putin's war of aggression now as Ukraine's situation on the ground is critical."

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told All Things Considered that U.S. aid is vital.

"During this six months without support from the U.S., the situation on the ground is difficult," he said. "We have a lack of ammunition for artillery. We have a lack of middle- and long-range equipment, so this support is crucial for us."

The bill for Ukraine provides nearly $61 billion in assistance, in line with the measure the Senate passed. This would include two things Ukraine says it needs urgently — a resupply of artillery rounds and air defense missiles. Notably, the House version converts financial assistance to Ukraine's government, separate from military assistance, into a loan.

The ground war in Ukraine has been largely an artillery duel, and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has spoken of Russia having a 10-1 advantage in artillery. In recent months, Russia has made limited gains on the ground. Zelenskyy and Ukrainian military officials say they have simply run out of ammunition in some cases and been forced to retreat. They say the problem could soon get even worse.

Ukraine's air defense systems have been effective against Russian airstrikes for much of the past two years. But Russia has been carrying out more damaging strikes on Ukrainian cities and power plants in recent months. Ukraine says this also reflects a shortage of air defense missiles needed to shoot down the incoming Russian fire. The capital Kyiv and a few other critical places are well protected, but other parts of the country have limited air defenses at best.

The bill includes nearly $14 billion to help Ukraine buy advanced weapons systems and defense equipment, $13.4 billion to replenish U.S. defense stockpiles, $7.3 billion for current U.S. military operations in the region and $13.7 billion for purchasing U.S. defense systems for Ukraine.

$8 billion for Indo-Pacific security

The bill for the Indo-Pacific includes just over $8 billion to "counter communist China and ensure a strong deterrence in the region."

Two billion dollars are allocated in foreign military financing for Taiwan, along with another $2 billion to replenish defense services provided to Taiwan and regional partners.

The U.S. government has a legal obligation to provide Taiwan with arms to help defend itself, and sells the self-governed island billions of dollars worth of kit each year. Beijing objects to the assistance, claiming Taiwan to be a part of China that must eventually be unified politically with the mainland, by force if necessary.

Over $3 billion is designated to develop submarine infrastructure. This provision is likely linked to the AUKUS security partnership launched three years ago by the U.S., Australia and the UK. As part of the partnership, the U.S. and UK pledged to help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines. While AUKUS doesn't openly take aim at China, analysts say the submarine element is a clear effort to counter Beijing's rapid naval expansion.

Reupping previous House bill forcing TikTok to divest

House GOP leaders added a fourth bill to the package that includes some sanctions against Russia, Iran, China, along with a measure to attempt to access some of the Russian assets that were seized at the start of the war in Ukraine and use them to offset the costs of the additional aid.

It also includes a House bill that passed overwhelmingly in March that forces TikTok to divest from its Chinese parent company ByteDance, or face a ban in the U.S.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., and the top Republican on the panel, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, backed the House bill after it passed with a wide margin, 352-65, and pressed for the Senate to take up the issue. But a key committee chair, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., expressed some concerns about the House version and raised the idea of holding a hearing. Lawmakers in both parties who backed the proposal also pushed to declassify the intelligence to help make their case.

Proponents worried a delay, and the Senate's practice of moving much more slowly than the House, would mean the effort to enact any restrictions could slip away this year. TikTok and ByteDance ramped up spending on ads opposing the ban, spending millions in several states with key Senate races like Pennsylvania, Montana, Ohio and Nevada. The company argues any effort to force a sale violates the free speech rights of its 170 million U.S. users, and could damage small businesses who use the app, and content creators who rely on it to earn a living.

But as GOP leaders crafted another national security measure to add to the foreign aid package, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, who co-authored the House TikTok bill, told NPR that leaders from both parties in both chambers negotiated some changes to their bill to satisfy Senate issues. One was to extend the period that ByteDance would have to find a new buyer from six months in the House bill to one year. Cantwell endorsed the bill with that change, giving a big boost to the bill's prospects.

"I'm very happy that Speaker Johnson and House leaders incorporated my recommendation to extend the Byte Dance divestment period from six months to a year," Cantwell said in a statement on Wednesday. "As I've said, extending the divestment period is necessary to ensure there is enough time for a new buyer to get a deal done. I support this updated legislation."

Krishnamoorthi said he thought the change "enhanced" the bill and said he was "optimistic" this added bill to the foreign aid package would ultimately get through.

NPR's John Ruwitch contributed to this report

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.
Greg Myre is a national security correspondent with a focus on the intelligence community, a position that follows his many years as a foreign correspondent covering conflicts around the globe.
Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.