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Former Critic of Ukraine Aid Assists in Advancing Aid Bill with Wide Bipartisan Backing

House Speaker Johnson (Credits: CNN)

After Oct. 7 tragedy where Hamas claimed the lives of 1,200 Israelis, President Joe Biden took to national television, urging Congress to approve a $106 billion emergency supplemental appropriation.

This fund was earmarked for security assistance to Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan. Despite Biden’s plea, Congress found itself divided along party lines and struggled to reach consensus, causing a six-month delay in providing the urgent aid.

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), who assumed the role of House Speaker following Kevin McCarthy’s ouster, initially opposed most of Biden’s foreign aid request, especially for Ukraine.

House Speaker Johnson (Credits: Washington Post)

However, Johnson supported assistance to Israel and pushed for its swift approval in the House. Despite passing in the House, the Senate preferred addressing Biden’s comprehensive aid package rather than considering individual measures.

Negotiations in the Senate faced hurdles, particularly regarding Republican demands to tie international assistance to security enhancements along the U.S. southern border.

Despite efforts from Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) to broker a compromise, former President Trump’s opposition to any border bill this year complicated matters.

Eventually, the Senate moved forward with a new substitute, devoid of border security provisions, attaching it to an unrelated veterans bill.

Speaker Johnson, initially critical of this approach, eventually supported assistance to Ukraine after private intelligence briefings and consultations with key stakeholders, including national security committee chairmen.

Challenges persisted for Johnson, including concessions made by McCarthy at the start of the Congress, allowing any member to offer a motion to “vacate the chair” and appointing hard-right members to the House Rules Committee. Johnson faced threats of a motion to vacate from Rep.

Speaker Mike Johnson (Credits: Responsible Statecraft)

Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and opposition from Rules Committee members. However, despite internal divisions, a bipartisan effort in the Rules Committee paved the way for separate votes on the security assistance bills, facilitating their passage in the House.

While there are discussions within the Republican Conference about potentially changing the vacate rule and reconfiguring the Rules Committee, Johnson’s leadership has garnered respect among his colleagues.

Despite the risk of facing a motion to vacate, Johnson’s ability to listen, learn, and lead has solidified his position as Speaker, even in the face of internal dissent.

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