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    HomeWorldJohnson moving forward with Ukraine aid bill despite pressure from hardliners

    Johnson moving forward with Ukraine aid bill despite pressure from hardliners


    Washington
    CNN
     — 

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

    Johnson said in a note to members that they will vote on these Saturday evening.

    “After significant Member feedback and discussion, the House Rules Committee will be posting soon today the text of three bills that will fund America’s national security interests and allies in Israel, the Indo-Pacific, and Ukraine, including a loan structure for aid, and enhanced strategy and accountability,” Johnson said in the note.

    The loan structure around aid comes after a meeting and news conference with Johnson and former President Donald Trump, who said in February that the US should stop providing foreign aid unless it is structured as a loan. That weekend, Johnson earned full-throated support from Trump at a perilous time in his speakership.

    Johnson had announced Monday evening the House will take up separate bills this week to provide aid for Israel and Ukraine, heeding demands from the far right to keep the issues separate. But the final product is expected to be lumped together as one big package that will be sent to the Senate, according to sources familiar. The House can do this though an arcane procedure, something that is enraging the right wing of the Republican party but it’s what Democrats have been insisting on as a condition of their support.

    The speaker has been facing mounting pressure to make tweaks to the foreign aid package proposed earlier this week – and not just from his most right-wing members. While conservative House Freedom caucus members have been sounding the alarm on border security and the foreign aid bills since Tuesday’s caucus meeting, the shouts have now spilled into the rank and file.

    Moderate New York Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis on Wednesday told the speaker “go back to Biden & Schumer and tell them he needs a border security measure to pass foreign aid.” Johnson said in his letter to members that he will bring forward an immigration bill that looks like the House’s HR 2.

    A number of far-right House Republicans have been quick to shoot down the border bill that Johnson announced would be included with the foreign aid bills expected to be voted on Saturday, dispelling any hope that the border provisions would placate the speaker’s right flank.

    The border bill, which includes the core provisions of another House passed border package that remains dead in the Senate, was seen as a messaging exercise by Johnson in attempt to placate his colleagues demands on the border and it clearly does not appear to be working.

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

    It all adds up to the most intense pressure that Johnson has faced over his future in his short time as speaker. Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky on Tuesday said he would co-sponsor Greene’s motion to vacate, which would boot Johnson from the speakership if it passed, leading the speaker to defiantly tell reporters that he would not be resigning.

    Conservative hardliners were quickly fuming at Johnson for his decision to move ahead with billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine and loudly warning him it could cost him his job.

    An angry Rep. Chip Roy of Texas said he is “very disappointed” in the speaker, and he is “past the point of giving grace.”

    “I need a little bit more time today, but it is not good,” Roy said when asked by CNN if it is time for him to get out of office.

    Firebrand Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz called Johnson’s decision to move ahead with the foreign aid bills as tantamount to “surrender,” vowing to vote against the package and work hard to pressure others to not support the move. Other Republicans also expressed anger and wouldn’t rule out voting against Johnson on procedural motions that could upend the bill.

    With Republicans only controlling the House by a razor-thin margin, Johnson will likely need Democrats to pass the foreign aid bills – and save his job should the motion to vacate come to the floor.

    House Democrats are waiting to weigh in on precisely how much they will help with procedural votes on the aid package until they see if it includes a must-have item for them: $9 billion in humanitarian aid to Gaza and other conflict zones around the globe. The billions in humanitarian aid includes not just money for Gaza but for Sudan, Haiti and other areas that Democrats have been quick to point out.

    During a caucus meeting on Tuesday, Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries told his caucus they would not accept “one penny” less of humanitarian aid.

    President Joe Biden on Wednesday urged the House of Representatives to pass “urgent” aid to Ukraine and Israel in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

    “Both Ukraine and Israel defended themselves against these attacks, holding the line and protecting their citizens. And both did it with critical help from the U.S.,” Biden writes. “Now is not the time to abandon our friends. The House must pass urgent national-security legislation for Ukraine and Israel, as well as desperately needed humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza.”

    The state of the battlefield in Ukraine is beginning to “shift a bit … in Russia’s favor,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers on Wednesday as he urged for passage of the supplemental aid package for Ukraine.

    “In terms of, you know, what happens going forward and how long Ukraine will be able to sustain its efforts, I think we’re already seeing things on the battlefield begin to shift a bit in in terms of in Russia’s favor,” Austin told the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee.

    However, House Democrats are divided over whether they would try and save Johnson if an effort to oust him gets underway in the chamber, with institutionalists insisting that voting against a motion to vacate could protect the body from devolving into chaos mere months before a presidential election. Progressive members, meanwhile, warn that helping Johnson now could ultimately undermine the party with its base, which already may be less than enthusiastic about showing up at the polls in November.

    Democratic Reps. Tom Suozzi and Jared Moskowitz have said publicly they would not support an attempt to oust Johnson, but other Democrats – including one who held the same job as Johnson – aren’t ready to make that kind of commitment.

    “Let’s just hope that that does not happen, and that we can do our responsibilities, protect and defend our own democracy as we protect theirs,” former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

    If Johnson is indeed ousted, it could plunge the House into chaos once again, with zero legislation getting on the floor until a new speaker is elected.

    This story has been updated with additional developments on Wednesday.

    CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.

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