Ukraine aid bill: Johnson moves ahead despite pressure from hardliners


Washington
CNN

Speaker Mike Johnson announced Wednesday that he is sticking to his plan to put a series of foreign aid bills, including funding, on the floor. UkraineAfter facing significant pressure from hardliners.

“After significant member input and debate, the House Rules Committee today will soon release the text of three bills that would fund America's national security interests and allies in Israel, the Indo-Pacific, and Ukraine, including a credit system for aid, and improved strategy and accountability,” Johnson said in the memo. said.

The three-part companion package looks similar to the Senate's bill in several key ways, including slightly more than $9 billion in humanitarian aid to Gaza and other conflict zones around the world, a red line for Democrats.

The bills, taken together, include about $95 billion in aid — the same amount included in the Senate bill — and $10 billion in economic aid to Ukraine as repayable loans. This specific aid is a direct payment to help the Ukrainian government continue to operate during the war.

Those loans cover about $7.9 billion in economic aid to Ukraine and another $1.6 billion in aid to Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia, with the president having to make an agreement with Kyiv to repay the funds. According to a source familiar with the matter, management can cancel the loan if they choose.

Overall, the bill would send $61 billion to Ukraine and regional partners, including $23 billion to replenish U.S. reserves. This includes 26 billion dollars for Israel and 8 billion dollars for the Indo-Pacific region freedom From the House Appropriations Committee.

The fight over the bills — and the possibility that members of the GOP's right wing will try to impeach Johnson — add to the most intense pressure the speaker has faced on his future in his short tenure. Rep. Thomas Massey of Kentucky on Tuesday said he would co-sponsor Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green's motion to resign, which would boot Johnson from the speakership, and the speaker defiantly told reporters that if it passed, he would not resign.

When asked by CNN's Jake Tapper on “The Lead” why the foreign aid packages given to Ukraine were not broken months ago. Desperate need for helpJohnson said, “When you have the smallest majority in American history, it takes a long time to socialize and build consensus.”

“Look, we know what the timetable is,” he added. “We know the urgency in Ukraine and Israel, and we're going to stand up for our closest ally and dear friend, Israel, and we're going to stand up for freedom and make sure that Vladimir Putin doesn't march in Europe.”

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Johnson appeared unfazed by threats to oust him, insisting he was “not even thinking about a motion to vacate.”

“It's a practical matter here that I think has been abused in recent times,” he said. “Maybe at some point we can change that, but right now, I have to do my job and all my colleagues do.”

The credit structure surrounding the aid comes after a meeting and news conference with Johnson and former President Donald Trump. He said in February that the U.S. should end foreign aid unless it is structured as debt. That weekend, Johnson received full support from Trump at a critical time in his speech.

Johnson announced Monday evening that the House would take up separate bills this week to provide aid to Israel and Ukraine, heeding calls from the far right to keep the issues separate. But the final product is expected to be one big package to be sent to the Senate, according to sources familiar with the matter. Democrats insist on it as a condition of their support, even though it's an arcane practice that irritates the Republican right.

The speaker is facing mounting pressure — and not just from members of his right wing — to make changes to the foreign aid package proposed earlier this week. With conservative House Freedom Caucus members sounding the alarm over border security and foreign aid bills since Tuesday's caucus meeting, the outcry has now spread through the ranks.

Representative of the moderate New York Republican Party. Nicole Malliotakis told the Speaker on Wednesday to “go back to Biden & Schumer and tell them we need border security action to provide foreign aid.” In a letter to his constituents, Johnson said he is proposing an immigration bill that looks a lot like the House's HR 2.

Many far-right House Republicans quickly shot down the border bill, which Johnson announced would be included with foreign aid bills expected to be voted on Saturday, dispelling any hope that the border rules would appease the speaker's right wing.

In an embarrassing defeat for Johnson on Wednesday evening, the House Rules Committee failed to pass a provision in the GOP border security bill, with Republicans threatening to vote against the measure in the committee.

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Moderate GOP Rep. Massey, Texas Rep. Mike Lawler to resign from the committee, accusing him of obstructing the Speaker's agenda. Called Chip Roy and South Carolina Rep. Ralph Norman.

“All three members who refuse to support the Speaker's agenda should immediately resign from the Rules Committee. If refused, remove immediately. They are representing the conference, not themselves,” Lawler said Social media post.

The border bill, which included key provisions of another House-passed border package that died in the Senate, was seen by Johnson as a messaging exercise in an attempt to appease his colleagues' demands on the border, and was unclear. Work.

Greene, who is leading the effort to oust Johnson, told X: “You are seriously out of step with Republicans by continuing to pass bills dependent on Democrats. Everyone sees this. ”

Conservative hardliners were quick to anger Johnson over his decision to give Ukraine billions of dollars in aid, and loudly warned that it could cost him his job.

An angry Roy said he was “very disappointed” in the speaker and that he had “passed the grace”.

“I need a little more time today, but it's not good,” Roy told CNN when asked if it was time for him to leave the office.

Firebrand Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz called Johnson's decision to move forward with foreign aid bills tantamount to “capitulation,” vowing to vote against the package and work hard to pressure others not to support the measure. Other Republicans also expressed anger and would not rule out voting against Johnson on procedural motions that could lift the bill.

In the first major test of the measures, the House Rules Committee will meet Thursday morning to advance Johnson's plans for a foreign aid package. However, the three hardliners on the panel that blocked the border security bill on Wednesday have threatened to oppose the provision on the foreign aid bill.

With Republicans only controlling the House by a razor-thin margin, Johnson may need Democrats to pass foreign aid bills — and save his job if a motion to vacate takes the floor.

House Democrats are waiting to weigh in on exactly how much practical votes on a $9 billion aid package for humanitarian aid to Gaza and other conflict zones around the world will help. Among the billions in humanitarian aid is money not only for Gaza, but also for Sudan, Haiti and other areas, as Democrats were quick to point out.

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During Tuesday's caucus meeting, Democratic Party Chairman Hakeem Jeffries told his caucuses that they would not accept “one penny” less in humanitarian aid.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday gave his first public endorsement of the plan presented by House Speaker Mike Johnson.

“I strongly support this package to secure critical support for Israel and Ukraine, provide much-needed humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, and promote security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Israel is facing unprecedented attacks from Iran, and Ukraine is facing sustained bombardment from Russia, which has dramatically intensified over the past month,” Biden said in a statement.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin urged lawmakers Wednesday to pass a supplemental aid package for Ukraine, saying the state of the battlefield in Ukraine is “starting to shift a little bit … in Russia's favor.”

“You know, in terms of what happens going forward and how long Ukraine can sustain its efforts, I think we're already seeing things start to shift in Russia's favor on the battlefield,” Austin told the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

However, House Democrats are divided on whether they will try to save Johnson If the attempt to evict him takes place in the room, institutionalists insist that voting against the impeachment motion could protect the body from chaos months before the presidential election. Progressive members, meanwhile, warn that helping Johnson now could ultimately undermine the party with its base, which may already be less than enthusiastic about showing up to the polls in November.

Democratic representatives. Tom Suozzi and Jared Moskowitz have publicly said they will not support an attempt to impeach Johnson, but other Democrats — including one who held the same job as Johnson — have been unwilling to make such a commitment.

“Let's hope that doesn't happen, and we can do our responsibilities, like protect our democracy, protect and defend our own democracy.” Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

If Johnson is indeed ousted, it could throw the House back into disarray, with zero legislation on the floor until a new speaker is elected.

This story was updated Wednesday with additional developments.

CNN's Manu Raju and Piper Hudspeth Blackburn contributed to this report.

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