Several area legislators strongly support $95 billion foreign aid package awaiting House vote — but some don’t

If Republican U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson reverses course and allows a vote on a $95 billion foreign aid package that heavily benefits Ukraine and Israel and already has passed the Democrat-controlled Senate, the proposal won’t have unanimous support from the entirely Democratic suburban delegation.

While the bill does have backers here, at least one representative serving the North, Northwest and West suburbs opposes it. Others won’t say where they stand.

Johnson on Wednesday said the U.S. House will not feel “rushed” to pass the bill, which is called the National Security Act of 2024 and passed the Senate on Tuesday with significant bipartisan support. It calls for $60 billion in military and non-military aid to Ukraine; about $14.1 billion for military aid to Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza; more than $8 billion to help Taiwan and other allies deter Chinese aggression; and about $9.2 billion in humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza, Ukraine and other war zones.

Both of Illinois’ U.S. senators, Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates and Dick Durbin of Springfield, stood with the 70-member majority in support of the bill.

But the congressional delegation serving the Chicago suburbs is fractured on the issue.

U.S. Reps. Sean Casten of Downers Grove, Raja Krishnamorthi of Schaumburg, Brad Schneider of Highland Park and Bill Foster of Naperville say they’ll support the plan if a House vote is called.

Krishnamoorthi, the ranking Democrat on the House committee focused on threats from China, called it “a crucial step in protecting America’s global security.”

“The House of Representatives must now take up parallel legislation that supports our allies and partners in Europe, the Middle East, and the Indo-Pacific while providing essential humanitarian assistance to those in need around the world,” Krishnamoorthi, who represents Illinois’ 8th District, said in a statement after the Senate passed the bill.

The 10th District’s Schneider spoke in favor of the proposal, too, and blamed supporters of former President Donald Trump for stalling it.

“It is folly to think that what is happening now in the Middle East is unrelated to what is happening concurrently in Ukraine,” Schneider said this week. “If (Russian President Vladimir) Putin wins in Europe, the aid we are providing Israel today is only a small fraction of what will be needed when Israel faces a strengthened Hezbollah, backed by an emboldened Iran and newly empowered Russia. The United States will likely need to spend billions of additional dollars stationing more U.S. troops alongside our NATO allies in countries like Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.”

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Highland Park supports a $95 billion foreign aid bill that passed the Senate but has stalled in the House.

Schneider, who is Jewish, also spoke up for providing humanitarian aid to the Palestinian civilians “caught in the middle of the war in Gaza.”

A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley of Chicago, whose 5th District includes much of suburban Cook and Lake counties, couldn’t be reached to discuss the issue. But Quigley has been a vocal supporter of both Ukraine and Israel, and he recently criticized Johnson for holding up the bill despite concessions.

On the other side of the debate, U.S. Rep. Delia Ramirez of Chicago, whose 3rd District includes a swath of the West and Northwest suburbs, opposes the legislation, a spokesman said. Ramirez has turned to social media to voice her disdain for U.S. support of Israel’s battle against Hamas, which led an Oct. 7 surprise attack and took hundreds of hostages. The conflict has led to thousands of casualties.

In a statement issued Friday, Ramirez said she supports helping Ukraine but objects to tying funds for that and humanitarian aid for Palestinians to what she called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “campaign of death and destruction.”

“We continue to witness the daily bombing and destruction, the death of almost 30,000 Palestinians, the displacement of 2 million Gazans, the starvation of children and women, and the threat to life of Israeli hostages in Gaza,” Ramirez said. “I cannot in good conscience vote to unconditionally send billions of dollars to the Netanyahu administration, enabling the collective punishment of civilians.”

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston has publicly supported Ukraine, Israel and Palestinian civilians in Gaza, and she’s been critical of how Republicans have handled the matter.

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky hasn’t decided how she’d vote on a $95 billion foreign aid bill awaiting action in the House, a spokesman said.

But a spokesman said Schakowsky, of the 9th District, wouldn’t say how she’d vote if the bill was called. When pressed, the spokesman said Schakowsky, who is Jewish, would want feedback from her constituents before deciding.

Another member of the Chicago-area delegation, the 4th District’s Jesus “Chuy” Garcia of Chicago, hasn’t indicated how he’d vote. When asked about the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza and the aid legislation Friday during a candidate interview with the Daily Herald, Garcia said the Oct. 7 terror attack against Israel can’t be justified but called Israel’s continued response “over the top,” particularly the killing of civilians in Gaza.

Similarly, Garcia said he supports Ukraine’s right to defend itself against Russian aggression, but he expressed concern that continued military assistance from the U.S. “only increases the possibility of a nuclear confrontation” in the region.

Representatives for U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood of Naperville didn’t respond to interview requests.

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