House Freedom Caucus Doubles Down on Ukraine Aid Opposition

April 15, 2024 by Dan McCue
House Freedom Caucus Doubles Down on Ukraine Aid Opposition
The quiet before the storm? The US Capitol on April 15, 2024. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — The House Freedom Caucus on Monday warned House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and other GOP leaders in the chamber not to try to use Iran’s attack on Israel this past weekend as “bogus justification” for sending additional military aid to Ukraine.

The warning, in the form of a statement posted to the X social media platform, significantly ratcheted up the pressure on Johnson, who has repeatedly said he would try to pass aid for Israel this week, but has hedged when asked about additional support for Ukraine.

Meanwhile, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers of Congress are continuing to call for the House to pass the Senate-approved aid package, which includes funding for both countries.

The $95.34 billion Senate Supplemental Aid package passed by a bipartisan vote of 70-29 in February.

Among other things, it includes $60.06 billion to support Ukraine, $14.1 billion in security assistance for Israel, $2.44 billion to support operations in the U.S. Central Command, $9.15 billion in humanitarian assistance to provide food, water, shelter, medical care and other essential services to civilians in Gaza and the West Bank, Ukraine and other conflict zones, $4.83 billion to support key regional partners in the Indo-Pacific and deter aggression by the Chinese government, and $481 million to continue support for Ukrainians displaced by Russia’s year-old invasion.

The House Freedom Caucus, which currently has about three dozen members, is ignoring that pressure and is instead urging the Senate to take up the $14.3 billion stand-alone Israel aid bill the House approved in November.

The bill, HR 6126, also known as the Israeli Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, designates the funding for Israel as emergency spending, which is exempt from discretionary spending limits.

It includes, among other things, $4 billion to replenish Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems, $1.2 billion for the Iron Beam defense system to thwart short-range rockets and mortar threats, $3.5 billion for the procurement of advanced weapons systems and other items needed for defense, defense articles, $1 billion to enhance production and development of artillery and critical munitions, and $3.3 billion for current U.S. military operations in the region in response to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.

“The House Freedom Caucus stands unequivocally with Israel. Congress should provide aid to Israel — and the House has already done so nearly five months ago and paid for it. The Senate must act immediately to take up H.R. 6126, the Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, to support our ally,” the group’s statement reads.

“Under no circumstances will the House Freedom Caucus abide using the emergency situation in Israel as a bogus justification to ram through Ukraine aid with no offset and no security for our own wide-open borders,” it said in conclusion.

Senate Democrats have repeatedly called the House bill a non-starter.

Johnson, meanwhile, has not definitively indicated where he stands, even as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., continues to threaten to force a vote on his removal.

As of Sunday, when he appeared on the Fox News channel, all Johnson offered was that the details of the package the House may vote on this week are still “being put together” and that “we’re looking at the options.”

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @DanMcCue

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