Johnson's 'Gigantic Gamble': 4 Different Votes This Week

Speaker plans separate bills on Ukraine and Israel, all while trying to keep his job
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2024 6:16 AM CDT
Johnson's Big Gamble: Splitting Ukraine, Israel Aid
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La.   (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib, File)

It's a sign of how complicated the politics of Congress are at the moment: House Speaker Mike Johnson will try to pass four different bills this week designed to send billions in aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan—all while trying to keep his job as speaker.

  • The four bills: Johnson will introduce separate bills on aid to Ukraine, aid to Israel, aid to Taiwan, and a fourth one that contains a range of measures favored by the GOP such as banning TikTok, reports the Washington Post. One main goal of this "convoluted" strategy is to decouple the Ukraine and Israel components.

  • The challenges: There are many. First, Johnson "would need near-unanimous support from his own conference" even to bring the package to the floor, and it's "far from certain" he has that, per Politico. If he clears that hurdle, success hinges "on a complicated mix of bipartisan coalitions that support different pieces, given resistance among hard-right Republicans to Ukraine funding and among left-wing Democrats to unfettered aid to Israel," per the New York Times.
  • His speakership: Marjorie Taylor Greene has threatened to trigger a vote on ousting Johnson if he moves ahead with Ukraine aid, and she called this new plan "another wrong direction" for Johnson, reports CBS News. In response, Johnson said: "I don't spend my time worrying about motions to vacate." In making the case for the aid, he said: "We have terrorists and tyrants and terrible leaders around the world like Putin and Xi and in Iran, and they're watching to see if America will stand up for its allies and our interests around the globe—and we will." Ukraine, for example, has said it is quickly running out of military supplies, per the Post.
  • Deeper dive: All in all, this is a "gigantic gamble" by Johnson, as laid out in a detailed analysis at Punchbowl News. The plan has the potential to "blow up in his face," reads the piece. "If the vote count starts to flag or hardliners rise up in opposition, there might be a movement to force Johnson to back away from this plan. Yet for Johnson, this scheme is the best of a lot of bad options."
(More Mike Johnson stories.)

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