Democrats help advance Ukraine, Israel aid in rare rules move

The House Rules Committee late Thursday night advanced a package of foreign aid bills — but only with help from Democrats who, in a rare move, supported the procedural vote amid opposition from a trio of hardline Republicans.

The panel voted 9-3 to adopt the rule, which governs debate for the legislation, with Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) opposing the effort.

The successful vote allows the full House to vote on the rule and open debate on three foreign aid bills — sending assistance to Israel, Ukraine and allies in the Indo-Pacific — plus a fourth that includes other national security priorities, such as a TikTok ban.

Rule votes — in committee and on the floor — are typically mundane, party-line occurrences, with the members from the majority party backing the rule and lawmakers in the minority party voting against it. But with conservatives voting against the rule out of opposition to Ukraine aid and the exclusion of border security measures, Democrats crossed the aisle to back the procedural vote.

The rule for the foreign aid legislation allows votes on specific amendments to the Ukraine, Indo-Pacific and national security measures. The Israel bill, however, will not have any amendments considered.

Also included in the rule is language that says if the House approves each of the four bills — they will receive separate floor votes — they will be merged together and sent to the Senate as one package.

Thursday night’s successful rule votes mark a crucial hurdle cleared for the foreign aid package, which has faced intense criticism from hardline Republicans since Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) unveiled the outline for his plan on Monday.

The legislation includes $26.38 billion for Israel, $60.84 billion for Ukraine and $8.12 billion for allies in the Indo-Pacific. The fourth national security bill features a ban of TikTok in the U.S. if the platform’s parent company does not sell it, language to send some of the new Ukraine aid in the form of a loan, and a provision that allows the administration to use seized Russian assets to help cover the costs of Ukrainian reconstruction.

The bipartisan vote, however, could land Johnson in more hot water with his right flank. Hardline conservatives have been up in arms with Johnson’s propensity to cut deals with Democrats over the criticism of Republicans — a dynamic that has become necessary in the narrowly divided House, but one that continues to incense conservatives.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) filed a motion to vacate — the same mechanism used to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — against Johnson late last month, but she has not said when she plans to force a vote on the resolution.

Massie announced earlier this week that he would be signing on to the legislation as a co-sponsor.

House GOP leadership on Thursday also teed up a vote on a separate border bill meant to appease hardliners who were frustrated that Johnson’s foreign aid package excluded provisions to address the situation at the southern border.

The House will consider that bill under suspension of the rules process on Friday, which eliminates the need to first pass a procedural rule but also requires two-thirds support for passage.

Leadership initially tried to move the bill through regular order, but opposition from conservatives on the Rules Committee scuttled those plans.

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