Democrats urge Johnson to include humanitarian assistance in foreign aid package

A group of House Democrats is calling on Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) to include humanitarian assistance in a foreign aid package that is expected to address funding for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific.

In a letter to Johnson sent Tuesday and obtained by The Hill, the Democrats asked Johnson to include $9.16 billion in global humanitarian assistance in any potential aid package, a figure slightly higher than what was included in a national security supplemental aid package the Senate passed in February. Johnson has refused to take up the Senate package.

The letter was first reported by Axios.

Democrats point to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza as one of the most pressing concerns for the U.S. to address, but also ask for funding to help provide aid to Ukraine, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Sudan, Haiti and Venezuela.

“Our responsibility to act is not just a moral one; it is also strategic: by abdicating this responsibility, our nation would allow unstable areas around the world to grow even more volatile—fueling threats to our security, as well as to the security and stability of our strategic allies and partners,” the lawmakers wrote.

The letter was led by Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) and signed by Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.); Jim McGovern (D-Mass.); Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.); Seth Moulton (D-Mass.); Jamie Raskin (D-Md.); and Dina Titus (D-Nev.), along with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

Humanitarian assistance is not likely to be excluded in a Johnson-proposed aid package because Johnson wants to bring the bill to the floor using a procedural maneuver that will require support from scores of Democrats who are virtually unanimous in demanding that such aid be a part of the legislation — a dynamic the Speaker understands well.

But there could be restrictions on how money is used, with Republicans intent on maintaining a ban on the U.S. providing funds for UNRWA, the United Nations relief agency for Palestinians that is under scrutiny for ties to Hamas.

It’s also unclear how many Republicans want to provide humanitarian assistance for Ukraine, with a wing of GOP lawmakers who make a distinction between sending weapons to Ukraine, and calling for Europe to share more of the burden of economic and humanitarian assistance.

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