New US House speaker says Ukraine, Israel funding request should be split

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Newly elected U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson said on Thursday that funding to support Ukraine and Israel should be handled separately, suggesting he will not back President Joe Biden’s $106 billion aid package for both countries.

Johnson, speaking in an interview on Fox News, has concerns about Ukraine funding in general, and believes any money for Israel will need to be funded by cuts elsewhere.

He met Biden on Thursday and said he told White House staff “our consensus among House Republicans is we need to bifurcate those issues.”

Biden wants Congress to provide $106 billion in supplemental funding, with the bulk of the money going to bolster Ukraine’s defenses and the remainder split among Israel, Indo-Pacific and border enforcement.

Johnson said of Ukraine funding: “We want to know what the object is there, what is the end game in Ukraine.

“The White House has not provided that,” he added.

Biden is betting that including money for Israel and immigration will help convince House Republicans wary of sending additional money to Ukraine to support the measure.

“Israel is a separate matter – we are going to bring forward a standalone Israel funding measure (of) over $14 billion,” Johnson said in the interview. He said House Republicans will look for other areas to cut in the budget in order to finance the funding for Israel.

The package includes $14.3 billion for Israel to fund air and missile defense support and other initiatives, as well as $61 billion for Ukraine.

(Reporting by Eric Beech and Chris Sanders; Editing by Jamie Freed and Raju Gopalakrishnan)