Johnson, Biden, Schumer Agree On Aid Package

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson is facing a tough decision this week as he works to garner support for a proposed $95 billion aid package to U.S. allies Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. Amid increasing pressure from his conservative colleagues, Johnson notified lawmakers on Wednesday that he would proceed with the aid proposals, despite facing potential backlash from the right flank of his party.

In a crucial display of bipartisan support, President Joe Biden has expressed his strong backing for the aid package, calling on Congress to pass the legislation and send a strong message to the world that the U.S. stands with its allies.

The aid package, which Johnson is hoping to advance with a series of votes on Saturday, would allocate approximately $61 billion for Ukraine, $26 billion for Israel, and $8 billion to allies in the Indo-Pacific region. The majority of the funding for Ukraine would be used to purchase weapons and ammunition from U.S. defense manufacturers.

Johnson also included a provision to structure $9 billion of economic assistance for Kyiv as forgivable loans, with increased oversight on military aid. However, the decision to support Ukraine has angered some of Johnson’s fellow Republicans and has renewed efforts to remove him from his position as speaker.

Despite facing opposition from within his own party, Johnson is determined to push ahead with the aid package, casting himself as a “Reagan Republican” who is committed to supporting U.S. allies in a critical time. He urged Congress to pass the legislation, stating that history will judge them for their actions.

To successfully advance the aid package, Johnson will need the support of Democrats, as he faces potential defections from members of his own party. House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries has pledged that his caucus will stand by their “topline commitment” to support allies in Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific, while also providing humanitarian assistance to conflict zones like Gaza.

However, some progressive Democrats have raised concerns about providing aid to Israel, which could potentially be used in its ongoing campaign in Gaza that has resulted in thousands of civilian casualties. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, stated that she could not vote for aid that could contribute to the killing of innocent civilians.

Meanwhile, Johnson is also facing a challenge from conservative Republicans, who are threatening to remove him from his position as speaker. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Rep. Thomas Massie have already called for Johnson’s resignation, while others have publicly defied his leadership.

To appease conservative members of his party, Johnson has offered to hold a separate vote on a border security bill, but this has been rejected by some. Rep. Bob Good, chair of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, labeled Johnson’s strategy a “complete failure,” saying that the U.S. should not be borrowing money to defend other nations while neglecting to secure its own borders. Johnson’s office has been working to secure support from key figures, including Republican governors and conservative and religious leaders, who have expressed their belief that he should remain in his position.

Meanwhile, as Johnson fights to keep his job and gather enough support to pass the aid package, the situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate. There is growing concern in Washington that the country could soon collapse, and the delay in passing the aid package has been criticized by some lawmakers. In a hearing on Wednesday, Pentagon leaders testified that both Ukraine and Israel urgently need military weapons to defend themselves against potential threats from Russia and other adversaries. The House version of the aid bill includes provisions to provide long-range ATACMS to Ukraine, which could be used to target Russian supply lines.

However, there are also concerns that sending these weapons could escalate tensions with Russia, as they have the capability to reach into Russian-held territory. The legislation allows the president to decline to send the weapons if it is deemed against the national security interests of the U.S., with Congress needing to be notified.

As the debate over the aid package continues, there is growing acknowledgment in Washington that Johnson’s position as speaker may be at risk. Rep. Don Bacon, a Republican from Nebraska, stated that if Johnson is ousted from his position, he will be remembered as the man who did the right thing, even if it cost him his job.


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