Johnson gambles on plan separating Israel aid from Ukraine funding

April 17, 2024

After months of inaction, House Speaker Mike Johnson unveiled on Monday, evening, April 15, an outline of his plan to address the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East—defying Republicans who threatened to oust him from the speakership if he moved forward with funding for Ukraine, reports The Washington Post.

But Johnson (R-Louisiana) risks angering many of his members with a convoluted plan aiming to placate his critics on the right, while also giving national security hawks a chance to advance billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.

Johnson plans to put four different bills on the floor, essentially decoupling aid for Israel from help for Ukraine, which is more controversial inside his conference.  The speaker then will advance separate votes for aid to Taiwan.

A draft of Johnson’s plan mirrors the Senate bill, according to five people familiar with the numbers, but may not include humanitarian assistance mainly directed toward Gaza.

Neither Johnson nor his office immediately commented on the draft. According to a person familiar with the plan, Johnson gave Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) a heads-up about the new strategy. The speaker told reporters that he would talk with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York) about the path forward.

Nowhere in the bills are border security measures demanded by some House Republicans as a condition of approving aid to foreign countries. The omission was glaring in the eyes of some far-right lawmakers, despite rejecting a chance to consider a tough bipartisan border security package earlier this year.

“Every member ultimately will be able to vote their own conscience on all of these matters and everybody have the opportunity to weigh in,” Johnson said after a GOP conference meeting Monday. “I think the final product will be something that everybody can take confidence in because they got to vote their district.”

Representative. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) has been threatening to introduce a measure intended to oust Johnson from the speakership—known as a motion to vacate—if he puts Ukraine aid on the floor.

Greene labeled Johnson’s plan a “scam” and said she is “firmly” against it, but hasn’t said yet whether she will move to try to depose him.

“I support the majority and I want it next time. So I’m being careful,” she said. “He’s definitely not going to be speaker next Congress if we’re lucky enough to have the majority.”

In response, Johnson said: “I don’t spend my time worrying about motions to vacate. We’re having to govern here and we’re going to do our job. I don’t know how that shakes out.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost