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House Democrats help Johnson avoid defeat on foreign aid bills, despite GOP defections

The House cleared a key procedural hurdle Friday in providing foreign aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, despite dozens of Republican defections, as Democrats helped President Mike Johnson avoid a crushing defeat.

Shortly after, a third Republican said he would join a threat to oust him.

The House voted 316-94 to advance the bills, scheduling votes Saturday on final passage of $95 billion in foreign aid that has been stuck in a political fight in Washington for several months.

Procedural votes like Friday’s typically pass by a majority of the House alone, but Democrats stepped in to help advance the legislation after more hardline Republicans collectively opposed the measure. More Democrats voted in favor of the bills than Republicans.

“The Democrats, once again, will be the adults in the room,” Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said during the debate before the vote.

Leaving the House after the vote, Johnson said the four foreign aid bills were “the best possible product” under the circumstances. “We look forward to final passage of the bill tomorrow.”

The individual bills provide about $26 billion for Israel, $61 billion for Ukraine and $8 billion for the Indo-Pacific. The measures are similar to legislation passed by a bipartisan group in the Senate in February, which consolidated all aid into one measure.

A fourth bill folded into the foreign aid package contains conservative priorities such as a bill banning TikTok, sanctions on Iran and legislation to seize Russian assets to help finance Ukraine.

“Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan are on the front lines in the fight to preserve democracy around the world,” Rep. Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, said during the debate. “In the case of Ukraine and Israel, these two nations are literally in danger. »

Pressure has increased on lawmakers to pass aid after Iran’s unprecedented attacks on Israel over the weekend.

Johnson continued his foreign aid efforts, calling them essential, despite reluctance from his party’s right wing and threats to his job.

A third House Republican, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, announced after Friday’s vote his support for the motion to vacate the speaker’s chair, first introduced by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene last month . In a statement, Gosar expressed frustration with moving forward with aid to Ukraine rather than providing resources to the southern border.

“We need a president who puts America first rather than pandering to the reckless demands of warmongers, neo-conservatives, and the military-industrial complex that makes billions from a costly, endless war on the other side of the world,” Gosar said.

Three Republicans supporting a motion to resign would be enough to impeach Johnson, unless Democrats decide to help defend the Republican president.

As he headed to the House floor for the vote, ABC News senior White House correspondent Selina Wang asked Johnson if he was worried about being ousted.

“I’m not worried,” Johnson replied. “I’m just doing my job.”

But Republican Party hardliners expressed their frustrations with Johnson and his approach to the issue during the debate.

“I am concerned that the speaker made a deal with Democrats to fund foreign wars rather than secure a border,” Rep. Thomas Massie said.

Massie, R-Ky., earlier this week called on Johnson to resign and joined Greene’s motion to leave.

Rep. Chip Roy, Republican of Texas, also challenged “an additional $100 million in war funding, unpaid, with zero border security – under a rule that Republicans should oppose because it it is a predefined process to achieve a predetermined desired outcome.” without border security.

“Everything was precooked,” Roy said. “That’s why President Biden and Chuck Schumer are praising it.”

Democrats, meanwhile, criticized Republicans for causing dysfunction in the House.

“I would just say to my colleagues, ‘Look what MAGA extremism has brought you: nothing. Nothing, nothing at all,'” said Rep. McGovern, who also told his colleagues, “You’re not getting reward for doing your fucking job.

“We are in a divided government. Nobody is going to get everything they want,” he added. “I hope that today’s vote will loosen the grip of MAGA extremism on this body, and especially when it comes to supporting our allies.”

Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez, also a Democratic member of the House Rules Committee, also condemned the delay in passing the aid: “Congress is finally going to vote… Why did this take us so much time ?”

The White House, ahead of the vote, issued an administration policy statement supporting the bills, calling them “long overdue” and actions that would “send a powerful message about the strength of American leadership at a pivotal moment.” .

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Gn world

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