White House open to Johnson plan for separate Ukraine and Israel funding bills

White House not rejecting House Speaker’s plan for separate defence funding bills for Israel and Ukraine

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Tuesday 16 April 2024 21:05 BST
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The White House is keeping an open mind about House Speaker Mike Johnson’s plan to advance separate bills to fund Ukraine and Israel’s defence needs as long as both countries’ needs are addressed.

On Monday, White House National Security Communications Adviser John Kirby told reporters that President Biden and his administration were opposed to plans for Mr Johnson to put a standalone bill funding Israeli defence needs only on the House floor for a vote this week, despite the need to restock Israeli munitions after Iran fired more than 300 rockets, drones and missiles at Israel over the weekend.

But after Mr Johnson revealed plans to put bills funding both Ukraine and Israel up for a vote in rapid succession this week, it appears the White House is not saying no to the House Speaker’s plan just yet.

Speaking aboard Air Force One on Tuesday, Mr Kirby told reporters that the Biden administration still objects to a standalone bill for Israel in the absence of any companion measure for Ukraine.

But he said the administration is waiting to hear more about Mr Johnson’s plan for separate but simultaneous bills before raising another objection.

“it does appear at first blush that the speaker’s proposals will in fact, help us get aid to Ukraine, aid to Israel, and needed resources to the Indo-Pacific for a wide range of continues even contingencies there,” he said. “We just want to get more details”.

Mr Kirby added that “separate is not a deal-breaker” as long as both Israel and Ukraine are addressed.

“It looks like the Speaker’s proposal does cover those immediate needs and they are immediate needs. But we’re waiting to get a little bit more detail before we we say one way or the other,” he said.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also told reporters that Mr Biden and Mr Johnson had discussed the Speaker’s plan in a phone conversation, though she declined to describe the contents of the call in detail.

“We’re gonna see the details of what he is planning. But we’ve been really clear. We want to see all of the parts that the President has talked about — getting that really important funding for Ukraine, Israel, Indo-Pacific, obviously that humanitarian aid that’s needed right now ... in Gaza. We do not want to see a standalone, we want to see all of these components move forward,” she said.

“We’re going to see the details — what’s in writing — the details of the plan, but obviously we want to see what what the speaker has to share,” she added.

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