Unbowed by GOP Critics, Johnson to Push Ahead With Foreign Aid Votes

April 16, 2024 by Dan McCue
Unbowed by GOP Critics, Johnson to Push Ahead With Foreign Aid Votes
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., and the House Republican leadership meet with reporters following a closed-door Republican strategy session as Johnson pushes towards separate votes on aid for Israel and Ukraine, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — Facing growing unrest in his own conference, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., plans to move forward to hold separate votes on aid for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific region.

The high-risk move — which already has two members of his slim House majority calling for his resignation — will require the speaker to pull together bipartisan majorities in support of each aid package.

To corral Republicans, Johnson is also said to be preparing a fourth measure that will include a number of GOP priorities when it comes to national security and is said to include one provision — turning some of the economic aid for Ukraine into loans — to appease those who oppose providing the nation with any aid at all.

Johnson’s plan means the House will not take up a $95 billion aid package passed by the Senate last month. But so far, at least, that doesn’t appear to be a deal breaker. 

Democrats in both chambers and at the White House have refrained from commenting until they see the bills in print — something that is likely to happen later on Tuesday.

Traveling with President Joe Biden in Pennsylvania today, National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby said the administration would “wait to pass judgment until after we’ve had a chance to take a closer look at the speaker’s proposal.”

“The important thing is that our allies, like Ukraine and Israel, who are under the gun — literally under the gun — get the security assistance they need as quickly as possible.”

“So we want them, [the House], to move [on this] this week,” Kirby said.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Johnson called Biden over the weekend and again on Monday to share the outline of his developing plan.

Like Kirby, she said she wanted to be “super mindful” and refrain from commenting on the plan before seeing its details.

“But we’ve been really clear,” Jean-Pierre said. “We want to see all of the parts that the president has talked about — getting that really important funding for Ukraine, Israel, the Indo-Pacific, and obviously that humanitarian aid that’s needed right now to address the dire situation in Gaza, [passed].  We do not want to see a standalone. We want to see all of these components move forward.”

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @DanMcCue

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