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Speaker Johnson reiterates desire to separate Israel, Ukraine aid - Spectrum News NY1

Author: Spectrum News NY1

Source: https://ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2023/10/29/speaker-johnson-israel-ukraine-aid

Image of Speaker Johnson reiterates desire to separate Israel, Ukraine aid - Spectrum News NY1

The newly elected Speaker of the House, Louisiana Rep.Mike Johnson, said on Sunday that House Republicans will move an Israel aid package to assist their war effort against Hamas in Gaza, but he wants that aid to be separate from any funding for Ukraine’s fight to propel Russian invaders.What You Need To KnowSpeaker of the House Mike Johnson said on Sunday that House Republicans will move an Israel aid package to assist their war effort against Hamas in Gaza, but he wants that aid to be separate from any funding for Ukraine’s fight to propel Russian invadersPresident Joe Biden has asked Congress for a $106 billion spending package, including $61.4 billion in military aid for Ukraine, $14.3 billion for Israel and just over $9 billion for humanitarian assistance in Ukraine, Israel and GazaOther funds would be earmarked for countering China in the Indo-Pacific region and for security along the U.S.-Mexico borderDemocratic leadership in the Senate and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are on board with the plan, but House Republicans are divided, with more isolationist factions particularly opposed to more billions for UkrainePresident Joe Biden has asked Congress for a $106 billion spending package, including $61.4 billion in military aid for Ukraine, $14.3 billion for Israel and just over $9 billion for humanitarian assistance in Ukraine, Israel and Gaza.Other funds would be earmarked for countering China in the Indo-Pacific region and for security along the U.S.-Mexico border.Democratic leadership in the Senate and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are on board with the plan, but House Republicans are divided, with more isolationist factions particularly opposed to more billions for Ukraine.“We're gonna move a standalone Israel funding bill this week in the house,” Johnson said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.” “There are lots of things going on around the world that we have to address and we will, but right now, what's happening in Israel takes the immediate attention and I think we've got to separate that and get it through.”The new speaker said as much last week after getting briefed by national security officials at the White House on the Biden proposal.“I told the staff at the White House today that our consensus among House Republicans is we need to bifurcate those issues,” Johnson told Fox News' Sean Hannity on Thursday, adding he wanted a much more detailed breakdown of how the money would be spent.“We can’t allow [Russian President] Vladimir Putin to prevail in Ukraine, because I don’t believe it would stop there and it would probably encourage and empower China to perhaps make a move on Taiwan, we have these concerns,” he added.“We’re not going to abandon them, but we have a responsibility — a stewardship responsibility — over the precious treasure of the American people, and we have to make sure that the White House is providing the people with some accountability for the dollars.”Johnson said he believed the Senate would be on board with an individual Israel package, an unlikely prospect considering Democrats will be aligned with the president’s wishes and McConnell will whip Republican votes to support the package.Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has called for an individual Israel aid package, introducing a bill with three other Senate Republicans to do just that.“We should vote on Israel military assistance, free and clear, and it would pass overwhelmingly,” Cruz said on Thursday.“And every other thing attached to it is the swamp at its very worst.”House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said he agreed with Johnson and Cruz on separate Israel funding, but added that he supported funding the rest of the areas of foreign policy Biden is eyeing.“We can’t forget about the other adversaries linked to Iran which is causing the problems in Israel, and that is Russia in Ukraine and Europe and the threat also of China to the Pacific and also, lastly, most importantly for me and my constituents, the border itself,” McCaul said separately on “Fox News Sunday.”Other pressing issues on the new speaker’s desk include a rapidly approaching government funding deadline and the Biden impeachment inquiry into the president’s family business dealings, a high priority for the House GOP’s right wing.The deadline to avert a government shutdown is Nov.17, a goal Johnson described as his “first priority.”“Our team is ready.We're working like a well-oiled machine,” Johnson said of his conference which just went three weeks without being able to rally around a speaker candidate. “We passed one of the appropriations bills just a day after I assumed the gavel.That was the energy and water bill.We have three more teed up for this next week.We're moving them as quickly as possible and trying to meet that deadline.”Beyond the energy and water appropriations bill, the House has passed five of the 12 spending bills needed to fund the government, but the Senate has not yet passed any.Passing all 12 bills and reaching an agreement with the Senate before the Nov. 17 deadline is a daunting, if insurmountable task.Johnson said he would be open to another stopgap measure to fund the government in the short term, a move that led to his predecessor Kevin McCarthy’s ouster.He said the measure would last until Jan.15.The hope for the fiscal conservative is to cut the budget and reduce federal spending, perhaps as much as 1% cuts across the board.“I think everyone will be on board with that because they understand we're really doing this work and if we run out of time on the calendar, we may need just a little more to complete it,” Johnson said.“So the details of that have come together.But I'll tell you what, I'm very optimistic.”The Louisiana Republican added he is relatively unconcerned over the House rule that allows any one member to introduce a “motion to vacate,” setting up a vote on the speakership. It was this rule that allowed Florida Rep.Matt Gaetz to begin the process of removing McCarthy.“I'm not afraid of it because I'm going to open the work transparently and with every member and everyone will fully understand what we're doing and why,” Johnson said.“But the rule makes it difficult for any speaker to do their job.And so we'll have some discussions about that.It's not my highest priority.”As for the impeachment inquiry, Johnson gave the investigation his endorsement and said the conference would move “very aggressively,” but would not commit to subpoenaing the president’s son Hunter Biden. Gaetz and other far right Republicans cited the lack of a subpoena as one of their grievances with McCarthy’s leadership.

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