After months of blocking US aid to Ukraine, a vote on a new aid package in the US House of Representatives is likely imminent. The chamber’s chairman, Mike Johnson, said he expected a vote on Saturday evening (local time). The powerful control committee published the draft laws that will now be voted on.

These largely reflect an existing proposal. However, in Johnson’s draft, part of the aid for Ukraine should be converted into a loan.

If approved, it would still be the Senate’s turn. It is likely that the Democratic-led chamber will support the plan. US President Joe Biden announced shortly after the draft legislation was published that he supported the package. “The House of Representatives must pass the package this week and the Senate should follow quickly,” the White House said in a statement. Biden will sign the law immediately.

The Senate had actually already voted in February for a billion-dollar aid package requested by Biden. This provided for around $60 billion in support for Ukraine, around $14 billion for Israel and billions in aid for Taiwan and other partners in the Indo-Pacific. The approval of the second chamber, the House of Representatives, was still pending – there the Republicans have a narrow majority. There has not yet been a vote in the chamber due to internal party power struggles among the Republicans.

The US government has been pushing for release for months

After much back and forth, Johnson decided to split the package into several parts and have separate votes on aid for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific. By converting part of the aid for Ukraine into a loan, Johnson wants to accommodate the Republicans in his group who view the aid critically or reject it. The package also includes just over $9 billion in humanitarian aid for various regions, including the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which was a demand from Democrats.

After the Iranian attack on Israel, the US government once again urged parliament to finally release the funds. The USA is also considered Ukraine’s most important ally in the fight against the Russian invasion. Since the war began in February 2022, Biden’s government has provided more than $44 billion (around 40 billion euros) in military aid to Kiev. According to the US government, the funds approved by Congress had already been used up at the end of last year.

It can be assumed that Johnson had previously had his plan approved by former President Donald Trump – the two met on Friday at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in Florida. Trump had repeatedly voiced opposition to aid to Ukraine, but recently appeared open to aid in the form of a loan. As a presidential candidate, he has great influence on the Republican Party.

Johnson under pressure

For Johnson, the vote on Ukraine aid is still sensitive. Despite his meeting with Trump, far-right Republicans have threatened him with a vote of no confidence if he brings them to a vote. MP Marjorie Taylor Greene submitted a first application for this at the end of March, which was joined by her party colleague Thomas Massie on Tuesday.

Although some intermediate parliamentary steps would be necessary for an actual vote and the two MPs have not yet said that they will take them – but in case of doubt, this could happen quickly. Because he only has a razor-thin majority in his chamber, Johnson would then have to rely on the votes of Democratic representatives for his political survival. His predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, was overthrown by such a vote of no confidence in his own party in October.

In order to appease his party colleagues, Johnson also announced that he would soon present another bill that would deal with protecting the US border with Mexico. Irregular migration into the country is one of the main election issues this year. Republican lawmakers are demanding that taxpayer money be spent first and foremost on protecting their own borders and not on protecting other countries.