House Speaker Mike Johnson Announces House Will Vote Saturday Night on Aid Package Which Includes Tens of Billions for Ukraine

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) declared that the House will vote Saturday night on a foreign aid package, which hasn’t been disclosed yet, but includes tens of billions of dollars for Ukraine.

Johnson sent a text message to House Republicans late Wednesday morning, informing them that he would soon unveil the text of three bills aimed at funding “America’s national security interests and allies,” as reported by Juliegrace Brufke of Axios. Votes on the final passage are scheduled for Saturday night.

The three bills aimed at funding Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan will be bundled together with a fourth bill. This combined legislation merges the “REPO Act, the TikTok bill, sanctions, and other measures to confront Russia, China, and Iran” into a single rule. This parliamentary product determines which legislation will be brought to the House floor as well as time and amendment considerations.

By putting the four bills into one rule, Johnson presents the House with a simple choice: either allow votes on all four bills or none at all. Both the rule and the individual bills require only majority support to pass.

As reported by Breitbart News, Johnson’s scheme is strictly engineered to allow him to bring Ukraine funding to the floor over the objections of conservatives:

[Johnson] appears to be exploiting the urgency of aiding Israel — a popular cause within his conference and among most House Democrats — to unleash Ukraine funding. By lumping multiple issues which animate large blocks of each party’s base, Johnson might be gambling he can woo Democrats to cross the aisle and vote for a Republican rule, consolidate Republican support, and protect his speakership.

On the Republican side, by including multiple pieces of legislation in the lone rule vote, Johnson is hoping to entice anti-Ukraine Republicans who don’t want to block aid to Israel to vote for the rule. Importantly, he also could insulate himself from criticism from conservatives — most notably [Rep. Marjorie Taylor] Greene (R-GA) — who might otherwise oust him from the Speaker’s office for bringing a standalone rule vote on Ukraine.

With the four-subject rule, Johnson can claim Ukraine aid’s inclusion was necessary for other priorities — most notably, Israel — and that his plan allowed each Member the opportunity to oppose the stand-alone Ukraine aid.

On the Democrat side, Johnson could be relying on the complexity of the House’s parliamentary procedure. It is incredibly unusual for an opposition party to vote for a majority party’s rule — either in the Rules Committee or on the House floor — even if the opposition supports the underlying legislation. But Johnson could hope that enough Democrat members will make the rare crossover on a rule vote to avoid endeavoring to explain parliamentary ins and outs to constituents angry that their Congressman blocked a vote on such highly motivating issues like aid to Israel and Ukraine.

While Johnson’s strategy permits separate votes on each of the four bills, the rule’s framework dictates that all four bills must ultimately be combined into a single package. Consequently, the House will only transmit one bill to the Senate, guaranteeing that either the entire aid package passes or none of its components do.

Lawmakers supporting aid for the American ally Israel, reportedly around $14 billion, will be faced with the prospect of also approving over three times that amount, totaling more than $48 billion, for Ukraine.

In what appears to be an empty gesture to conservatives, Johnson also said he would release the text of “a border security bill that includes the core components of H.R.2, under a separate rule that will allow for amendments.” Since that bill is under a separate rule, it would not be included in the foreign aid package that would be sent to the Senate if Johnson’s scheme goes forward late Saturday night.

The House has already passed H.R. 2, a strong border security bill Johnson once insisted be included with any foreign aid package considered by the House — a position he abandoned in March. If the House votes a second time to pass a border security bill untethered to another piece of legislation the Senate desires, this border security bill would face certain death in the Senate, like H.R. 2.

Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) posted on X:

“Rumored course of action in the House: Combine Ukraine and Israel aid, with other Biden boondoggles. Send it all to the Senate as a combined package. Then let the House vote on a fake border security package that has no chance. Betrayal. And stupid politics to boot.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who has initiated a motion to remove Johnson from the Speaker’s office, seemed unmoved by Johnson’s announcement. She highlighted that the House passed an aid bill to Israel in November 2023, suggesting it could serve as leverage to prioritize support for Israel over Ukraine.

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“News flash for Speaker Johnson, we have already passed HR2, the Senate has it and refuses to secure our border, they want 5,000 illegals per day to come in,” she said. “The House passed $14 Billion for Israel aid in November and the Senate refuses to pass it. You, Speaker Johnson, voted against $300 million for Ukraine before we gave you the gavel along with the majority of Republicans.”

“No one understands why it is now your top priority to give Ukraine $60 billion more dollars. You are seriously out of step with Republicans by continuing to pass bills dependent on Democrats. Everyone sees through this,” she added.

Johnson concluded his text to his colleagues with a message: “I look forward to continuing our work together.”

That collaboration may not last for much longer.

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By Hunter Fielding
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