House Will Vote On A Ukraine Aid Bill, Johnson Says, But Specifics Still Hazy

Lawmakers want to add items in order to leave House GOP “impramateur” on bill, even as Ukraine runs through weapon supplies.
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WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — The House will vote on a bill to provide much-needed weapons to Ukraine in its war with Russia, but the contours of such a bill still need to be worked out, according to a report.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), in an interview with Politico, said he expects aid to Ukraine and Israel would come to the floor either tied together or as two separate stand-alone bills.

“I think it is a stand-alone, and I suspect it will need to be on suspension,” Johnson was quoted as saying, referring to the floor process used where a bill requires two-thirds support in order to be approved.

Johnson was in West Virginia with his fellow House Republicans for an annual policy and politics retreat at the Greenbrier resort.

Johnson’s “stand-alone” phrasing, however, does not mean the bill would simply be an up or down vote on whether to provide, as President Joe Biden proposed, about $48 billion in military aid and another $8 billion or so in economic aid to help Kyiv pay its bills. It’s likely some other stuff would be in the package as well.

In a session with reporters Thursday, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said the bill “would have our impramateur, the House version” instead of simply being the Senate bill that arrived with aid for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and humanitarian assistance for war-torn Gaza.

McCaul said he had been working with leaders of the House Intelligence and Armed Services Committees, as well as the lawmakers in control of funding on a bill.

One thing McCaul said he wanted was the so-called REPO Act, a bill that would confiscate the frozen assets in the U.S. and elsewhere that belong to the Russian government.

Such a move would be a major change and one critics say could get caught up in legal disputes for a long time. While official assets of foreign governments have been frozen before, as happened with Iran after American embassy staffers were taken hostage in 1979, rarely have they been confiscated outright.

But having such a complicated bill like REPO ride along with Ukraine aid raises the prospect of a rerun of the ill-fated border-security-for-Ukraine swap that died in February after Senate Republicans balked. That collapse cost weeks of time and not long after the Ukrainian strategic town of Avdiivka fell to Russia, a development U.S. officials blamed on lack of artillery.

While a Ukraine bill is unlikely to make it to the House floor before the March 22 deadlined to finish up annual government funding, McCaul said time was dwindling to pass a bill and get Ukraine more weapons.

“I think we need to pass it. It’s dire. So we need to pass it soon,” he said.

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