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US House leader faces backlash over Ukraine, Israel aid proposal

Several right-wing Republicans voiced outrage that House Speaker Mike Johnson would move forward on fresh aid to Ukraine and Israel, something President Joe Biden has demanded for months
Several right-wing Republicans voiced outrage that House Speaker Mike Johnson would move forward on fresh aid to Ukraine and Israel, something President Joe Biden has demanded for months - Copyright POOL/AFP SHAWN THEW
Several right-wing Republicans voiced outrage that House Speaker Mike Johnson would move forward on fresh aid to Ukraine and Israel, something President Joe Biden has demanded for months - Copyright POOL/AFP SHAWN THEW

The fate of US aid to Ukraine hung in the balance Tuesday as House Speaker Mike Johnson faced potential revolt from within his Republican party over his complex plan to renew the long-delayed funding along with fresh assistance for Israel.

Johnson, who leads a razor-thin Republican majority, announced late Monday that his chamber would vote this week on separate aid bills for Ukraine, Israel, and other national security items, after stalling for months over pressure from his party’s right-wing.

Several members of that faction quickly voiced outrage at the $95 billion plan and raised the prospect of triggering a vote on removing Johnson from his position — as was done to his predecessor.

Far-right firebrand Marjorie Taylor Greene, a close ally of Donald Trump who opposes any compromise with Democrats, said Monday that she was undecided on triggering the so-called motion to vacate, but stated that Johnson’s days were numbered.

“He’s definitely not going to be speaker next Congress if we’re lucky enough to have the majority,” the Georgia representative told reporters.

Her Republican colleague Thomas Massie said Tuesday that he had decided to co-sponsor Greene’s resolution, but also did not pledge to immediately trigger the procedure.

“He should pre-announce his resignation… so we can pick a new Speaker without ever being without a GOP Speaker,” Massie said on X.

When asked about the fresh revolt, Johnson told reporters on Tuesday: “I am not resigning.”

– White House awaits details –

Without the near-total backing of his party, Johnson would be left to rely on Democratic votes to pass the aid bills.

That would infuriate his own party’s hard-right faction.

A similar attempt at compromise led to his predecessor’s historic removal in October, though several Democrats have announced that this time around they would offer their votes to protect Johnson.

In the meantime, it was unclear if the aid bills — yet to be released as of Tuesday afternoon — would even pass the House or Democratic-controlled Senate.

The White House said Tuesday that the outlined bills appear to meet the long-delayed military needs of Ukraine and Israel — but that President Joe Biden still needed to study the proposals before making a final decision.

The US Senate passed a combined $95 billion package in February that included Biden’s request for massive new funds to help Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion, as well as new support for Israel and Taiwan.

However, Johnson has refused to allow a vote on that package in the House.

Previously the White House has fought for the aid to be bundled together in the same package like the one the Senate approved, but it appeared to soften its position on Tuesday.

“It does appear at first blush that the speaker’s proposal will in fact help us get aid to Ukraine, aid to Israel,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters traveling with Biden on a reelection campaign trip to Scranton, Pennsylvania.

“But we’re waiting to get a little bit more detail before we say one way or the other.”

Biden, who spoke to Johnson on Monday about the plans, had stressed that “we need to see the House move this week” due to the urgent military needs of Ukraine and Israel, Kirby added.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has pleaded for assistance as Russia takes the offensive against defending Ukrainian forces, who are increasingly running out of ammunition.

Israel is meanwhile locked in a six-month-old war against Hamas in Gaza following the October 7 attacks — as well as fending off a wave of Iranian drone and missile attacks at the weekend.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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