Some Democrats consider protecting Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson's gavel to win his support for the bipartisan deal on border security and Ukraine aid, drafted in the U.S. Senate, Politico reported on Jan. 19.
As early as next week, a bipartisan group of negotiators is expected to unveil the deal in the Senate, including provisions on immigration policy and funding for Kyiv. Despite some concessions made by the White House, many worry that the deal will not pass by House Republicans.
The funding request of over $110 billion, including around $61 billion for Ukraine, has been stuck in Congress since autumn 2023.
Hoping to secure assistance for Kyiv after the Pentagon said that the current funds ran out, several Democratic lawmakers reportedly contemplate throwing their votes behind Johnson if more hardline members of his party attempt to oust him.
This would be a major strategy shift, as the Democratic Party refused to protect Johnson's predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, who was considered less conservative than the current speaker. McCarthy was ousted last October by far-right Republican conservatives.
According to Politico, there are doubts whether Johnson would accept such a deal as it would expose him to pressure from his own party and former President Donald Trump.
Trump, who is most likely going to challenge President Joe Biden during the upcoming election this year, spoke out against the bipartisan deal on his social network platform, Truth Social.
"I do not think we should do a Border Deal, at all, unless we get everything needed to shut down the invasion of millions & millions of people," Trump said, voicing his belief that Johnson "will only make a deal that is perfect on the border."
House Republicans have raised even more draconic proposals for border security, which are, in turn, unlikely to be accepted by Democrats.
People close to Trump are seeking to deal a blow to Biden's border policy, which is seen as broadly unpopular, ahead of the upcoming vote.
Some Republicans in favor of the bipartisan deal said that despite the pressure from the Trumpists, Johnson would like to reach a deal in the end.
"I know how Johnson actually thinks, and he's of the same opinion I am here," Republican Representative Dan Crenshaw told Politico.