Ukraine aid and a potential TikTok ban: The House’s $95 billion bill, explained

It heads to the Senate this week, and could soon be law.

Mike Johnson, in a blue suit and glasses, is seen in profile, looking straight ahead.

House Speaker Mike Johnson talks with members of the media following passage of a series of foreign aid bills at the Capitol on April 20, in Washington, DC. Nathan Howard/Getty Images Li Zhou is a politics reporter at Vox, where she covers Congress and elections. Previously, she was a tech policy reporter at Politico and an editorial fellow at the Atlantic.

After months of uncertainty, the House has greenlit a $95 billion package with substantial aid for Ukraine, as well as funds for Israel and US allies in the Indo-Pacific region. It now heads to the Senate, which is expected to pass it later this week.

This move is one of the most significant bills to pass the House in months, and follows weeks of intense GOP infighting about the wisdom of sending more money to Ukraine as its war with Russia enters its third year. Ukraine is heavily dependent on US aid, and its leaders have argued that American money will be critical to break the impasse the country is in amid tenacious Russian attacks.

The bill is also a strong signal of support for Israel as global and domestic outcry has grown regarding the country’s attacks in Gaza and the humanitarian crisis there. And, it contains two elements meant to target China’s power: military funding for Asian allies — in support of Taiwan — as well as a measure banning TikTok in the US if the app’s China-based owner, ByteDance, does not divest it.

All four measures advanced with the help of significant Democratic support, since many Republicans have maintained vocal opposition to more Ukraine funding. The votes for the package also point to a new reality: Due to fracturing in the GOP conference, and the party’s narrow majority, House Speaker Mike Johnson has increasingly had to seek help from Democrats, risking threats to his job in the process.

What’s in this package

In total, the package contains four bills meant to assist key allies with their military efforts, while also deterring China and Russia.

  • Ukraine aid: The bulk of this aid package — $61 billion — is dedicated to helping Ukraine counter Russia’s ongoing military offensive. These funds include $14 billion aimed at replenishing Ukraine’s weapons and ammunition, $13 billion to restock US military supplies that have previously been sent over, and $9 billion in forgivable loans for other rebuilding efforts, including infrastructure.

This measure passed 311-112, with only Republicans voting against it, and provides long awaited funds to Ukraine as Russia has made territorial gains.

This bill prompted backlash from far-right Republicans, who argue these funds would be better spent domestically. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has threatened to call for Johnson’s removal as a result of this vote.

  • Israel aid: There’s $26 billion in the measure dedicated to aid related to the Israel-Gaza conflict, including $13 billion to bolster Israel’s military capabilities and US stockpiles that have been depleted due to material transfers, and $9 billion for humanitarian aid for Gaza and other places around the world.

This measure passed 366-58, and signals that the US will continue to boost Israel’s military resources despite the Biden administration’s occasional criticism of the country’s bombings of Gaza. More than 30 progressive Democrats opposed this bill and a handful of far-right Republicans did the same. Progressives have been vocal about the need for an immediate ceasefire and have spoken out against sending more money to arm Israel.

  • Aid to Indo-Pacific allies: About $8 billion in the aid package is focused on helping US allies in the Indo-Pacific region boost their military capabilities and better support Taiwan. That includes roughly $6 billion for deterrence, which includes building out stronger submarine infrastructure in the region.

This measure passed 385-34 and comes as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put a new spotlight on Taiwan and the question of whether the Chinese government would one day invade it. Of the three aid bills, this one received the most bipartisan support, with just roughly three dozen Republicans voting against it.

  • REPO Act and sanctions: A fourth bill, which contains provisions of the REPO Act, would allow the US to transfer seized Russian assets to Ukraine, which it could use for reconstruction. It also imposes harsher sanctions on Russia, Iran, and China.
  • TikTok bill: A TikTok “ban” is also included in this fourth bill. That measure requires ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, to sell the app within nine months or risk getting banned from operations in the US.

This fourth bill passed 360-58 and had about 30 progressives and 20 far-right Republicans opposed. The REPO Act and TikTok measures were an attempt to add some concessions for Republicans reluctant to back Ukraine aid.

Why this is such a big deal

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy enthusiastically welcomed the House’s actions, calling them “vital” and claiming they will save “thousands and thousands of lives.”

Military leaders and foreign policy experts have emphasized that US aid to Ukraine has been central to its ability to hold off Russia and will be critical if Ukraine is to counter a potential summer offensive. Since the war began, the US has sent Ukraine roughly $111 billion in aid. In recent months, Ukraine has been running low on ammunition and materiel needed for its air defenses, as Russia has made more inroads. “Make no mistake: without US aid, Ukraine is likely to lose the war,” Max Boot, a military historian and fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, has written.

The Ukraine bill was a sharp reminder of the divides in the Republican Party, with more moderate and classically conservative members supporting aid and some far-right members calling for a more isolationist stance. Because of his support of Ukraine aid, and caucus rules allowing any member to trigger ouster proceedings, Johnson is now in a more precarious position. After the House returns from its current recess, he could face additional calls to vacate from those on the right, though some Democrats have signaled that they could save him. Should Johnson lose his gavel, the House would, once again, have to navigate the chaos of another speaker’s race as it did last year.

The aid to Israel is notable in that the Democratic-led White House has offered critiques of the country’s offensive while simultaneously encouraging funding for it. The money comes as more than 34,000 people have been killed in Gaza and as experts warn of famine and a deepening humanitarian crisis in the region.

The humanitarian crisis, as well as some members’ backing for a ceasefire, led to the measure being sharply debated among Democrats. Overall, Israel aid remains an enduring flash point for Democrats, with progressives calling out the Biden administration’s ongoing willingness to provide this support without strings attached.

“To give Netanyahu more offensive weapons at this stage, I believe, is to condone the destruction of Gaza that we’ve seen in the last six months. And it’s also a green light for an invasion of Rafah,” Rep. Becca Balint (D-VT), a Jewish lawmaker who has called for a ceasefire, told the New York Times last week.

Many of the issues raised by this package are enduring ones. Ukraine will need more support from the US down the line as Russia maintains its attacks, and Republican divides are expected to persist. It’s possible Israel could seek more funding too, as its war continues, and the bill doesn’t resolve the tensions inherent in the US’s current stance toward the country.

And the TikTok measure isn’t necessarily the end of the dispute over what to do about the app. As Vox’s Nicole Narea has explained, TikTok intends to challenge the policy in court on the grounds that it threatens people’s free speech.


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