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CNN: Johnson opens door for alternative Ukraine aid package in House

by Abbey Fenbert March 4, 2024 12:52 AM 3 min read
U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson conducts a meeting on Nov. 7, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
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U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson has met privately with Republicans who support military aid to Ukraine about crafting an alternative foreign aid bill in the House, CNN reported March 3.

Republicans hope to finalize their proposal and bring it to a vote by late March or April.

A border policy and foreign aid bill allocating $61 billion to Ukraine met with immediate obstruction from Johnson when it came to the House after winning bipartisan approval in the Senate. U.S. aid to Ukraine has been delayed for months as Republicans in Congress continue to refuse funding.

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul, a Republican, is leading talks to build an alternative bipartisan plan that differs from the Senate package

"We are currently working on a draft," McCaul told CNN.

Johnson has not expressed support for the House proposal or promised to give it a floor vote, but Republicans leading the negotiations believe he will bring the plan to the floor.

“No, I don’t think he’s trying to kill it,” said Mike Lawler, a New York Republican involved in the talks.

“I think he understands the need to get support for Israel, for Ukraine, for Taiwan. … It’s a function of process and working through these issues within the conference.”

‘Our reserves will run out:’ Ukrainian artillery sounds alarm on Western shell shortage
Hiding beneath sparse winter cover in a crude, muddy ditch, a great steel monster lies in wait for an opportunity to attack. Adorned on either side with painted plus signs, the gun’s huge barrel looks up at the sky over the Bakhmut front line, across which thousands

The House proposal would reportedly allocate $66 billion to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, but would not include humanitarian aid. It would also impose even more draconian restrictions on immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, including blanket denial of entry to any asylum seekers until the U.S. achieves "operational control of the border."

Migrants would also be forced to remain in Mexico or their country of origin while their applications for asylum are processed.

Even if the new proposal does make it to the floor, it will likely face opposition from both parties. The border restrictions, lack of humanitarian aid, and funding for Israel's bombardment of Gaza will alienate Democrats who may otherwise support aid to Ukraine.

Hard-line Republicans who support former U.S. President Donald Trump also remain  opposed to arming Ukraine in principle.

Chip Roy, a pro-Trump House Republican who is against aid to Ukraine, told CNN that he doesn't think Johnson should support the bill, but that it may advance anyway.

"The defense hawks usually get their way. And that’s just the way this town works," Roy said.

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US House Democrats back Johnson's foreign aid bills.

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