Speaker Mike Johnson takes risk on separating Israel and Ukraine aid

Washington — House Speaker Mike Johnson on Monday unveiled a proposal for sending wartime aid to Israel and Ukraine as he seeks to fend off a right-wing revolt that could put his leadership in peril. 

The Louisiana Republican said he plans to put four separate bills on the floor, separating aid for Israel with assistance for Ukraine, which has faced fierce pushback among some members of his conference. A third measure includes aid for Taiwan and the final bill addresses other Republican foreign policy demands. 

“We won’t be voting on the Senate supplemental in its current form, but we will vote on each of these measures separately in four different pieces,” Johnson told reporters after meeting with House Republicans. 

Johnson said they’re still discussing whether to then merge the individual bills into one package before sending it to the Senate for approval, though his preference is to send them individually. 

Johnson has resisted pressure from defense hawks in both parties to bring up a $95 billion package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan that passed the Senate in February with bipartisan support. Johnson has struggled to find a path forward amid fractures among Republicans and Democrats over emergency assistance to Ukraine and Israel. But Iran’s drone-and-missile attack over the weekend on Israel, which came in retaliation for a strike on an Iranian consulate in Syria earlier this month, increased the pressure on Johnson to hold a vote on the Senate bill this week. Proponents of the Senate bill believe it has enough support to pass the House.

Putting Ukraine aid up for a vote carries the threat of ending his six-month tenure as speaker that has been defined by GOP infighting that has thrown the lower chamber into dysfunction. House Republicans’ narrow majority has forced Johnson to repeatedly rely on Democrats to pass major legislation, much to the chagrin of some conservatives. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, has threatened to trigger a vote on ousting Johnson if he moves ahead with an aid package for Ukraine. 

Greene called the proposal “another wrong direction” for Johnson, but said she hadn’t decided on whether she’d move ahead in trying to oust him. 

“I am firmly against the plan as it stands right now,” Greene said after Monday’s conference meeting. “This is such a scam.” 

When asked whether he could survive a vote to remove him, Johnson said, “I don’t spend my time worrying about motions to vacate. We’re trying to govern here, and we’re going to do our job. I’m not sure how that shakes out.” 

While splitting the aid into individual bills could appease conservatives, it also makes passage in the Senate uncertain. The White House said Monday it opposes a standalone Israel bill.  

Meanwhile, some progressives oppose sending additional aid to Israel over its handling of the war in Gaza. A recent Israeli strike that killed seven aid workers for the World Central Kitchen could harden Democratic resistance. 

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