April 21, 2024


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House passes $60B Ukraine aid bill as GOP rebels threaten to oust Johnson

The House of Representatives has approved sending $60 billion to Ukraine for its defense against Russia’s invasion, an issue that has roiled Speaker Mike Johnson’s already perilously slim majority.

The aid package passed 311 to 112, with more Democrats voted in favor than Republicans – and just 101 Republicans voted for the bill while 112 voted nay.

In a dramatic moment toward the end of the vote, Democrats began passing around Ukrainian flags — in violation of House protocol, according to the lawmaker presiding over the vote, Rep. Marc Molinaro. The left side of the aisle exploded in cheers when the timer on the vote reached zero, earning admonishment from Molinaro, who told them the flag-waving was in violation of the rules and called it ‘inappropriate,’ to which Democrats jeered.

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., took to the microphones to chide, ‘Put those d–n flags away,’ earning more verbal backlash from Democrats before the chamber was called to order for the next vote.

House lawmakers are in session on a rare Saturday working to pass Johnson’s $95 billion foreign aid plan, which also includes aid bills for Israel and the Indo-Pacific, as well as a bill with other national security measures. In a decisive victory for the Louisiana Republican, all four bills passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

The close margins within the GOP alone show what a divisive topic Ukraine funding has become for the right.

A growing number of fiscal conservatives have been skeptical about the U.S.’s continued financial involvement with Ukraine, while others have raised questions about corruption within Kyiv’s government. 

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s proposal to strip all funding related to Ukraine from the Ukraine funding bill predictably failed Saturday in a 71 to 351 vote.

More traditional Republicans and national security hawks warn that Ukraine’s victory is critical to preventing a wider conflict between NATO and Russia, warning that its President Vladimir Putin is rapidly forming a second ‘axis of evil’ with Iran and China.

Johnson, who like his conservative colleagues was skeptical of Ukraine aid before becoming speaker, gave a sober warning earlier this week. ‘I really do believe the intel and the briefings that we’ve gotten that I believe [Chinese President Xi Jinpimg] and Vladimir Putin and Iran really are an axis of evil. And I think they’re in coordination on this. I think that Vladimir Putin would continue to march through Europe if he were allowed. I think he might go to the Balkans next. I think he might have a showdown with Poland or one of our NATO allies,’ he told reporters. ‘To put it bluntly, I would rather send bullets to Ukraine than American boys,’ he said.

But his support for foreign aid, particularly Ukraine, is also threatening to cut short his tenure as House speaker. Greene filed a resolution for a House-wide vote to oust Johnson, known as a motion to vacate, last month in protest of his work with Democrats on government spending and foreign aid.

Two more House Republicans — Reps. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., and Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., formally backed her resolution this week.

‘[R]ather than spending the resources to secure our southern border and combating the invasion of 11 million illegals and despite repeated promises there would be no additional money going to Ukraine without first securing our border, the United States House of Representatives, under the direction of the Speaker, is on the verge of sending another $61 billion to further draw America into an endless and purposeless war in Ukraine,’ Gosar said in a statement on Friday. ‘I have added my name in support of the motion to vacate the Speaker. Our border cannot be an afterthought.’

Greene told reporters on Saturday after the vote, ‘This is the third betrayal of Mike Johnson,’ citing his earlier government funding agreement and renewal of a key government surveillance tool.

She then added, ‘And then he did this bulls–t in here on the House floor, a foreign war package that does nothing for America. It’s unbelievable. I’m thankful that America gets to see who this man is.’

Meanwhile, Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., conceded that Johnson could ‘maybe’ lose his job over pushing his foreign aid package over the line but praised the speaker for doing ‘the right thing’ despite the risk.

‘We…had intelligence that if we didn’t get this done soon, Ukraine was in a bad situation,’ Bacon said.

House leaders do not have to put Greene’s resolution up for a vote unless she files it as ‘privileged,’ at which point it’s required that lawmakers act on it within two legislative days. Greene did not indicate when she might do that.

Several Democrats, however, have indicated that they were open to helping save Johnson’s job if he put the Ukraine aid bill on the House floor.

The bill with roughly $8 billion for the Indo-Pacific overwhelmingly passed 385 to 34 earlier on Saturday.

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS