Japan Prime Minister Presses Congress Not To Back Away From Global Engagement

Pressure continues to build on Congress, and primarily on the Republican-controlled House, to pass a foreign aid bill.

Thursday, April 11th 2024, 6:19 pm

By: News 9, Alex Cameron, News On 6


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Pressure continues to build on Congress, and primarily on the Republican-controlled House, to pass a foreign aid bill.

House leadership has been sitting on a $95 billion aid package sent over by the Senate since February and heard a high-level plea Thursday to get off the fence.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, in Washington this week to reaffirm the strong ties between the U.S. And Japan, addressed a joint session of Congress Thursday morning and delivered a clear message:

"You believe that freedom is the oxygen of humanity," Kishida said, eliciting loud applause. "The world needs the United States to continue playing this pivotal role in the affairs of nations."

Translation: now is not the time, Kishida believes, for the United States to stop providing aid to the world's hotspots -- Ukraine, Israel, and Eastern Asia.

Democrats agree and are urging Speaker Mike Johnson (R-L.A.) to act.

"The only way forward at this late hour," said House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries at a news conference, "is for House Republicans to put the bipartisan comprehensive national security bill on the House floor for an up or down vote."

Some Republicans would welcome that, but many would not.

Oklahoma's Josh Brecheen says, that as big as the national debt is, it's reasonable to suggest that any future foreign aid should be made in the form of a loan. "That’s what we’re missing in this conversation," said U.S. Rep. Brecheen (R-O.K.) in an interview Thursday, "and Trump brought this up."

Brecheen also worries, specifically regarding Ukraine, that the more the United States invests and the longer the war drags on, the more likely it is that American troops will end up on the ground. "So, I think the best thing the United States can do right now," Brecheen said, "is let Europe step up to the plate."

Many Republicans also see the pending aid package as an opportunity to get something important to changes in border policy. Oklahoma's Kevin Hern says Speaker Johnson has the leverage to get it done. "I’d like to see him bring a package to the floor that includes the southern border," U.S. Rep. Hern (R-O.K.) in an interview.

If Johnson, instead, goes with an up or down vote on the Senate-passed aid package, he would likely face a motion to vacate from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-G.A.) and would then need help from across the aisle to survive. "I believe that there are a reasonable number of Democrats," Leader Jeffries told reporters, "who would not want to see the Speaker fall as a result of doing the right thing."

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