US House's Republican discord could stall Ukraine aid further

The Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is experiencing internal strife and a looming challenge to Speaker Mike Johnson's leadership, pressures that might delay the passage of a crucial aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and other key allies.

Publication: 05.04.2024 - 13:47
US House's Republican discord could stall Ukraine aid further
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Amidst Kyiv's urgent need for munitions to counter a Russian invasion, Republicans in Washington are eager for Johnson to propose an aid package that could quickly pass both the House and the Democratic-controlled Senate, eventually reaching President Joe Biden for approval.

However, a faction within the Republicans demands border security enhancements and budget cuts to balance out the foreign aid, insisting Johnson wait until he secures the support of a majority within the slim 218-213 Republican advantage. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a prominent Republican and an outspoken critic of Ukraine aid, has escalated tensions by threatening to initiate a vote to remove Johnson as speaker, accusing him of failing the Republican party and acting against its interests.

In response, Johnson expressed respect for Greene's position despite their strategic differences, emphasizing their shared conservative values and commitment to challenging the administration's policies despite the narrow Republican majority.

Nearly two months have passed since the Senate passed a bipartisan $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and other allies. Johnson has resisted bringing this bill to a vote, a move that has frustrated some lawmakers who believe it could pass despite some Republican and Democratic reservations, particularly regarding additional funding for Israel amidst its conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

Negotiations to reach a consensus on the aid package could extend for months, with a Republican strategist suggesting it might drag into early July. As the November 5 elections approach, Congress's focus will likely shift towards campaigning, further compressing the legislative agenda that includes other priorities like infrastructure funding and surveillance program authorization.

Despite the obstacles, Democrats might play a crucial role in preserving Johnson's position if he advances the Ukraine aid package, with House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries hinting at supporting Johnson against a removal motion if the aid package meets expectations. Johnson has indicated a forthcoming aid package that includes loans, provisions for seizing Russian assets, and the resumption of U.S. liquefied natural gas exports.

Despite Greene's threats, there's little sign of broad Republican support for her ousting Johnson, with members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, instrumental in the ouster of Johnson's predecessor, not openly backing Greene's motion. However, the situation remains fluid, with Ukraine aid being a contentious issue that could influence the speaker's future leadership.

The House previously passed a smaller $300 million Ukraine aid bill with significant Democratic support and limited Republican backing. Representative Don Bacon has noted a growing Republican support for swift Ukraine aid as Kyiv's situation deteriorates, emphasizing the urgency of the situation and the importance of making a timely decision.

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