US House Advances $95 Billion Ukraine-Israel Package toward Saturday Vote

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) walks towards the House Chamber on Capitol Hill on April 19, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images via AFP)
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) walks towards the House Chamber on Capitol Hill on April 19, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images via AFP)
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US House Advances $95 Billion Ukraine-Israel Package toward Saturday Vote

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) walks towards the House Chamber on Capitol Hill on April 19, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images via AFP)
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) walks towards the House Chamber on Capitol Hill on April 19, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images via AFP)

The US House of Representatives advanced a $95 billion legislative package on Friday providing aid to Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific in a broad bipartisan vote, overcoming hardline Republican opposition that had held it up for months.

Friday's procedural vote, which passed 316-94 with more support from Democrats than the Republicans who hold a narrow majority, advanced a package similar to a measure that passed the Democratic-majority Senate in February.

Democratic President Joe Biden, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell and top House Democrat Hakeem Jeffries had been pushing for a House vote since then. Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson had held off in the face of opposition from a small but vocal segment of his party.

In addition to the aid for allies, the package includes a provision to transfer frozen Russian assets to Ukraine, and sanctions targeting Hamas and Iran and to force China's ByteDance to sell social media platform TikTok or face a ban in the US.

The legislation provides more than $95 billion in security assistance, including $9.1 billion for humanitarian aid, which Democrats had demanded.

If the House passes the measure, as expected, the Senate will need to follow suit to send it to Biden to sign into law.

Schumer on Friday told senators to be prepared to come back over the weekend if needed.

Some conservative lawmakers oppose aid to Ukraine, and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, has sent mixed messages about it.

Some Democrats also oppose certain provisions in the bill, notably on Israel aid, and had pushed for more conditions on that assistance. 



Stockholm Accuses Iran of Using Criminals in Sweden to Target Israel

A police vehicle on patrol in Sweden. Reuters file photo
A police vehicle on patrol in Sweden. Reuters file photo
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Stockholm Accuses Iran of Using Criminals in Sweden to Target Israel

A police vehicle on patrol in Sweden. Reuters file photo
A police vehicle on patrol in Sweden. Reuters file photo

Sweden's domestic security agency on Thursday accused Iran of using established criminal networks in Sweden as a proxy to target Israeli or Jewish interests in the Scandinavian country.
The accusations were raised at a news conference by Daniel Stenling, the head of the SAPO agency's counterespionage unit, following a series of events earlier this year.
In late January, the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm was sealed off after what was then described as “a dangerous object” was found on the grounds of the diplomatic mission in an eastern Stockholm neighborhood. Swedish media said the object was a hand grenade.
The embassy was not evacuated and the object was eventually destroyed. No arrests were made and authorities did not say what was found. On May 17, gunshots were heard near the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm and the area was cordoned off. No one was arrested.
According to The Associated Press, Stenling said, without offering specifics or evidence to back up his assertion, that the agency "can establish that criminal networks in Sweden are used as a proxy by Iran.”
“It is very much about planning and attempts to carry out attacks against Israeli and Jewish interests, goals and activities in Sweden," he said and added that the agency sees "connections between criminal individuals in the criminal networks and individuals who are connected to the Iranian security services.”
Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer and Hampus Nygårds, deputy head of the Swedish police's National Operations Department, were also at the online news conference with Stenling.
“We see this connection between the Iranian intelligence services, the security services and precisely criminals in the criminal networks in Sweden," Stenling said. “We see that connection and it also means that we need to work much more internationally to get to the crimes and be able to prevent them.”
Stenling and the others made no mention of the recent incidents connected to the Israel Embassy and stopped short of naming any criminal groups or suspects.
Sweden has grappled with gang violence for years and criminal gangs often recruit teenagers in socially disadvantaged immigrant neighborhoods to carry out hits.
By May 15, police have recorded 85 shootings so far this year, including 12 fatal shootings. Last year, 53 people were killed and 109 were wounded in a total of 363 shootings.