Speaker Johnson announces innovations in US aid package for Ukraine

Monday, 1 April 2024

Mike Johnson, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, has said that the US aid package for Ukraine will include "some important innovations", including the possibility of extending a US loan to Ukraine.

As reported by The Hill, in an interview on Sunday, Johnson said he was in a difficult position, given his historically narrow House majority, but said that he was working throughout the current work period to come up with a package and is planning to put it to vote when the House is back in session.

"But when it comes to the supplemental, we’ve been working to build that consensus. We’ve been talking to all the members especially now over the district work period. When we return after this work period, we’ll be moving a product, but it’s going to, I think, have some important innovations."

Johnson said, for example, that the US might extend a loan to Ukraine. The Hill reported that this idea "gained some traction earlier this month, as a way to back Ukraine in a way that might assuage conservative concerns about providing more aid".

Johnson also mentioned the REPO for Ukrainians Act, which would authorise the US president to seize Russian sovereign assets frozen in the US and give them to Ukraine to use against Russia.

"Even President Trump has talked about the loan concept, where… we’re not just giving foreign aid. We’re setting it up in a relationship where they can provide it back to us when the time is right," Johnson said.

The Hill stressed that Johnson made these statements after signalling that he intends to push through legislation that would provide funding for Ukraine, although without saying exactly what that would look like.

Mike Turner, chairman of the US House Intelligence Committee, said that Johnson has promised to put the issue of providing assistance to Ukraine to a vote after Congress returns from the Easter recess.

The US Congress’ approval of over US$60 billion in aid to Ukraine is currently being blocked by Republicans in the House of Representatives. The White House has repeatedly cautioned that this would significantly harm Ukraine’s military efforts on the battlefield.

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