House GOP approves State Department funding bill despite Ukraine opposition

House Republicans on Thursday passed legislation to fund the State Department and foreign operations, clearing the bill despite some GOP lawmakers voicing opposition to provisions pertaining to Ukraine.

The chamber approved the measure in a 216-212 vote. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) voted with Democrats against the bill.

Passage of the bill will not help avert an and-of-the-month shutdown, but top Republicans are hopeful that moving the legislation — along with three other full-year funding bills — could make it easier for the House GOP conference to pass a funding stopgap.

Conservative opposition to the State Department spending bill rested largely in provisions related to Ukraine.

The legislation does not allocate a specific amount of money for Ukraine, but it does say funds appropriated under a provision of the bill should be made available to Ukraine to “defend their sovereignty and withstand the impacts of Russia’s invasion,” “combat corruption” and “promote transparency and democracy.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), among the most outspoken Republicans when it comes to curtailing aid to Ukraine, has argued that the State Department bill provides Kyiv with a “blank check.”

Greene proposed an amendment that called for prohibiting assistance to Ukraine, which failed overwhelmingly in a 90-342 vote.

Republicans are seeking more than 10 percent in cuts to their State Department funding bill below current levels, with a slew of proposals aimed at trimming “wasteful spending.” That includes terminating U.S. dollars for the United Nations’ regular budget, as well as barring funds for the World Health Organization and the Gender Equity and Equality Action Fund.

Republicans have touted the bill, which also covers funding for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), as helping Israel by providing billions for the Foreign Military Financing Program. They’ve also highlighted support in the bill for Egypt and Jordan, and efforts seeking to counter Chinese influence.

Democrats, however, have leveled sharp criticism against the bill for cuts they say could have damaging effects to efforts at the border and abroad. 

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said the bill would force the State Department and USAID “to reduce programs that engage countries like Colombia and Guatemala to address the very conditions causing people to flee to the United States.”

“This bill cedes America’s position as the leader of the global community, weakens our national security, shortchanges foreign assistance, hinders our ability to address the climate crisis, and harms women around the world,” she also said. 

In addition to the State Department legislation, Greene also took issue with $300 million in funding for Ukraine that was initially included in the Pentagon appropriations bill.

The congresswoman broke from convention and joined other conservatives in opposing a procedural vote on the spending bill, which blocked the chamber from beginning debate on the measure. One day later, McCarthy told reporters that he would strip the Ukraine aid out of the legislation and hold a separate vote on it, which Greene called a “victory.”

But McCarthy backtracked the next day, announcing that the funding would remain in the legislation because aid for Ukraine was also in the State Department measure, and it was “too difficult” to remove it from that legislation. Greene, as a result, voted against a rule that included the Pentagon and State Department bills, along with two others, but it easily passed despite her opposition.

On Wednesday night, however, top House Republicans voted to strip the $300 million from the Pentagon funding bill amid uncertainty regarding the legislation’s chances of passing.

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