Speaker Johnson Tells Colleagues He'll Allow a Vote on the Ukraine Aid Bill in April



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Speaker Mike Johnson is telling colleagues and leaders in both parties that he will put the $95 billion military aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan on the floor for a vote shortly after the House returns from Easter Recess on April 9. When the Senate passed the aid bill on February 13, Speaker Johnson said that without a border security element, the bill was dead on arrival.

“House Republicans were crystal clear from the very beginning of discussions that any so-called national security supplemental legislation must recognize that national security begins at our own border,” Johnson said in his statement. “The House acted ten months ago to help enact transformative policy change by passing the Secure Our Border Act, and since then, including today, the Senate has failed to meet the moment.”

“The Senate did the right thing last week by rejecting the Ukraine-Taiwan-Gaza-Israel-Immigration legislation due to its insufficient border provisions, and it should have gone back to the drawing board to amend the current bill to include real border security provisions that would actually help end the ongoing catastrophe,” he continued. “Instead, the Senate’s foreign aid bill is silent on the most pressing issue facing our country.”


BACKGROUND:

$96 Billion Ukraine-Israel Assistance Bill Clears Major Senate Hurdle

Ukraine-Israel Aid Package Clears the Senate and Heads to the House

House Speaker Mike Johnson Effectively Kills Senate Supplemental Ukraine Aid Bill 

Mike Johnson Holds the Line As GOP Senators Pressure Him to Bring Ukraine Bill to the House Floor


As I posted at the time, as Johnson had a four-vote margin, it was difficult to see how he made his promise stick.

What happens in the House is anyone’s guess. I’m ready to go on record as nostalgic for the good old days when Kevin McCarthy was Speaker. I don’t think Mike Johnson has the skill or ability to manage the House with his razor-thin majority. The demand to attach two totally unrelated bills, military assistance and border security, in the same bill as some sort of suicide pact has to be one of the dumber things the House GOP has come up with recently. Perhaps not as dumb as the failure of the Mayorkas impeachment, but definitely in the ballpark. It was an idea that made no sense outside the context of Failure Theater, where a failed border security bill would serve as a fundraising gimmick.


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This is the state of play. According to Axios, Johnson has told Democrats and Republicans that he will bring the bill up for a vote.

What they’re saying: “I just spoke personally to the speaker about bringing Ukraine aid to the floor, and he assured me: shortly after the break. Like, immediately,” Rep. Annie Kuster (D-N.H.) told Axios on Thursday.

  • A House Republican who had lunch with Johnson earlier this week told Axios the votes will happen “quick thereto” after the recess.
  • “We’re going to have a vote … I know that leadership is in support of a vote,” said Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.).
  • House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Mike McCaul (R-Texas), asked whether Johnson plans to hold foreign aid votes after the recess, told Axios: “That’s my understanding, yes.”

The House Democrat leadership is sponsoring a discharge petition to force Johnson to allow a vote on the bill. The best count I have is the petition is 29 votes short of the 218 needed. However, when Members return from recess, the House leadership will do some aggressive whipping to get signatures. Ultimately, I think the discharge petition gets the 218 it needs to force a vote, and I think Johnson knows this is the case.

Johnson has a one-vote margin with the resignations of Mike Gallagher and Ken Buck and that will undoubtedly shrink. On his way out, Buck said there were three more resignations in the works. He will never be stronger in this Congress than he is right now so rather than be forced by Democrats to allow a vote, he’ll search for some way to control the process.


READ:

BREAKING: Colorado Representative Ken Buck Resigns From Congress

NEW: Rep. Mike Gallagher to Resign From Congress Effective April 19, Narrows GOP Margin to One Vote 

More GOP Resignations Loom As Speaker Johnson Pleads With Members to Stop Primarying Other GOPers 


Marjorie Taylor Greene, a reflexive anti-Ukraine vote, has filed a “motion to vacate” against Speaker Johnson.


RELATED:

BREAKING: Marjorie Taylor Greene Files Motion to Vacate Against Speaker Mike Johnson

He’s Already in the Arms of Democrats’: MTG Explains Why She Filed Motion to Vacate Speaker’s Chair


I’m not sure what this is supposed to do other than get social media attention. The only reason Kevin McCarthy was ousted was because of Democrat votes. Hakeem Jeffries has said his caucus will support Johnson. As far as I can see, the only useful thing this motion will do is to allow Johnson to identify the members in his own caucus he can’t rely on.

There is one last game to be played.

Between the lines: It is unclear in what form the foreign aid will come to the floor — and that could be key.

  • Johnson has floated splitting Ukraine and Israel aid into separate bills rather than voting on a single, sprawling aid package.
  • He also said foreign aid likely to come up under suspension of the rules, a process that requires bills to pass with a two-thirds majority.
  • One senior House Republican suggested the package could be split into as many as five pieces — Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan, border and reimbursing the Pentagon — but that could be a tough sell for Democrats.

I don’t think five bills are doable because I don’t believe House Republicans have the skill or motivation to do the work. I can see Johnson bringing three bills — Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan — to the floor. This would have a lot to be said for it. The all three bills will easily pass the two-thirds threshold. The standalone Israel bill will give the Pro-Terrorist caucus an escape hatch so they can vote for Ukraine and against Israel. It will also be a useful metric for measuring the sincerity of the “no foreign aid without border security” group. My suspicion is that they will vote for Israel aid but against Ukraine aid, thereby proving what I’ve said for about three months which is their only foreign aid objection is to aid for Ukraine. 



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