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How Wisconsin Congress members voted on foreign aid, TikTok ban

Wisconsin’s congressional representatives — six Republicans and two Democrats — were divided on the measures.

How Wisconsin Congress members voted on foreign aid, TikTok ban

Source: U.S. House of Representatives

April 23, 2024 1:01 PM CDT
By: Hina Suzuki / The Badger Project

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While the U.S. House overwhelmingly passed a $95 million foreign aid package that provides funding to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan on Saturday, it divided the eight congressional representatives from Wisconsin in unusual ways. A bill that could lead to a nationwide ban of the video-sharing app TikTok also passed.

The bills will now be sent to the U.S. Senate, where it is expected to pass. President Joe Biden thanked the House for passing the package and said he will approve it immediately.

The package includes about $61 billion in aid to Ukraine, $26 billion to Israel and Gaza and $8 billion for Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific region to defend against China.

The bill also authorizes the president to use the $6 billion the U.S. government has seized in Russian assets to help pay for the aid to Ukraine.

Biden has said he will sign the TikTok bill also. It would force the popular social media platform’s Chinese parent company ByteDance to sell its stake in the app within nine months or face a ban.  

Wisconsin’s congressional representatives — six Republicans and two Democrats — were divided on the measures. 

Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Republican from the Green Bay area, announced in March his resignation from Congress on April 19, but he delayed his departure to support the foreign aid package. 

“I am proud that the House took bipartisan action to support our allies in the face of authoritarian aggression from China, Russia, Iran and Hamas,” Gallagher wrote on X. “This package provides critical support to Taiwan, Israel and Ukraine as they defend the frontlines of the free world and renews the authority to sanction terrorist organizations like Hamas for using human shields.” 

On the other hand, Republican Rep. Tom Tiffany of northwestern Wisconsin opposed all of the foreign aid package, writing on X “$95 billion in FOREIGN aid with NOTHING to stop the FOREIGN invasion of our own country.”

“America’s border security should come FIRST,” he added.

Members of both parties in the U.S. Senate, where Democrats have a slim 51-49 majority, worked on a bill to secure the border earlier this year, but support from many Republicans collapsed after Donald Trump announced his opposition to the bill, effectively killing it. Critics have accused Trump of killing a bipartisan deal that would solve a problem he would like to use to attack President Joe Biden in his reelection bid.

Aid to Ukraine 

The $61 billion bill to provide arms and other aid to Ukraine passed by a bipartisan vote of 311-112.

Gallagher was the only Wisconsin Republican who supported this bill. Both Democrats voted yes.

Much of the funds to Ukraine will be spent in weapons factories in the U.S., as they must replace those being sent to the war. Some experts say the foreign aid is similar to a domestic stimulus because much of it is being spent in the U.S.

In a statement on his votes on the bills, Republican Rep. Glenn Grothman said he could not support the foreign aid without first funding the overwhelmed American immigration system.

“I am disappointed that this week, aid to Ukraine took priority over the fight to get a handle on our open southern border,” he wrote.

Aid to Israel and Gaza

The $26 billion bill to provide aid to Israel and Gaza passed on a 366-58 vote. 

Rep. Mark Pocan and Tiffany voted against the bill. The other six voted yes.

Pocan, a Democrat from Madison, said in a statement on Saturday that the package consisted of “billions of dollars in unconditional weapons for Israel.” 

“The devastation inflicted upon innocent civilians in Gaza is unjustifiable, and the United States cannot continue providing Prime Minister Netanyahu with a blank check to expand this conflict,” he wrote. 

In contrast, the other Wisconsin Democrat, Rep. Gwen Moore of Milwaukee, voted in favor of the aid. She issued a statement on Saturday calling for the immediate delivery of humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza. 

Aid to Taiwan and others in the region

The $8 billion bill to Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific intended to help U.S. allies counter China passed on a 385-34 bipartisan vote.

Tiffany was the only member of the Wisconsin delegation to vote against this part of the bill. 

TikTok Divestiture

A bill that could ban TikTok in the U.S. passed by a bipartisan vote of 360-58. 

Gallagher introduced this bill from his chairmanship of the committee on competition with China. The bill would force ByteDance to sell TikTok be banned in the U.S. TikTok poses two threats – data security and propaganda, Gallagher has said.

U.S. intelligence agencies says China uses the popular social media platform to influence American elections and “magnify U.S. societal divisions.” China also bans foreign social media platforms inside its borders.

To win more votes in the Senate, Gallagher’s proposal was changed to extend the timeline for a forced sale of TikTok to nine months from the initially-proposed six months.

All six of Wisconsin’s Republican representatives voted in favor of the bill, whereas the Democratic representatives both opposed it.

“There are better ways to address any legitimate concerns, including long overdue work to improve data privacy and security for every American across all platforms, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to do so,” Moore said in a statement in March.

The Badger Project is a nonpartisan, citizen-supported journalism nonprofit in Wisconsin.

This article first appeared on The Badger Project and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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