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House Republicans release aid bills for Israel and Ukraine, eyeing weekend House votes

WASHINGTON — Facing a divided party and pressure to act, House Speaker Mike Johnson introduced three bills Wednesday aimed at providing aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, hoping to hold the final votes on Saturday.

The bills represent a major test of Johnson’s ability to confront a range of political and global challenges with a razor-thin majority. And it comes as Johnson, R-La., faces a serious threat to his gavel from Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky.

Johnson’s biggest challenge is funding Ukraine, an issue that bitterly divides the Republican Party. He has been pressed by conservative security hawks who want to help Ukraine repel Russian aggression and by an isolationist wing of power that feeds off former President Donald Trump’s criticism of NATO and previous aid measures to Ukraine.

Many Republicans say they are opposed to any funding for Ukraine, which means a significant portion of Democrats will be required to carry this measure across the finish line. Many provisions of the bills resemble the one-package package passed by the Senate, which Johnson rejected and refused to bring to the House for a vote.

In a message to members before releasing the bill, Johnson said there would be “three bills that will fund the national security interests of America and its allies in Israel, the Indo-Pacific and Ukraine, including a loan structure for aid, and strengthened strategy and accountability.” “.

He said Republican leaders would present an amendment process “alongside a fourth bill including the REPO Act,” which aims to seize Russian assets for Ukraine’s benefit; the House-passed bill banning TikTok in the United States unless it divests from its China-based owner; as well as “sanctions and other measures to confront Russia, China and Iran.”

“We anticipate that the vote on final passage of these bills will take place Saturday evening,” Johnson said in a text message obtained by NBC News.

He added that there would also be a “border security bill that includes the essential elements of HR2” — a conservative immigration bill passed by the House — that would follow a separate process. The measure serves as a sweetener to reluctant conservatives who are unhappy that aid bills do not include provisions on domestic immigration.

Rapid conservative retreat

Several House conservatives immediately reacted on social media Wednesday after Johnson’s message was released, complaining that the border measures were not directly related to funding for Ukraine.

“The Republican Speaker of the House is seeking to pass a rule to pass nearly $100 billion in foreign aid – while there is no doubt that dangerous criminals, terrorists and fentanyl are crossing our border. “Border ‘vote’ in this package is a dangerous watered-down cover to vote, I will oppose it,” said Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas. written the.

Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., the newest chairman of the far-right Freedom Caucus, said, “Anything less than tying aid to Ukraine to real border security fails to be effective.” the height of @SpeakerJohnson’s own words just a few weeks ago. voters demand – and deserve – more from us.

Rep. Troy Nehls, Republican of Texas, previously called aid to Ukraine unnecessary, saying, “I’m not giving them a penny today, tomorrow or next week.” »

“Putin is not going to Poland. I don’t care what you say. Besides, it doesn’t really matter anyway because… when Donald Trump wins, Putin leaves. Putin is leaving Ukraine,” Nehls said before the bill was published, without explaining its logic.

House Democrats have repeatedly called on Johnson to instead introduce a Senate-passed foreign aid package, calling it the best — if not the only — path to getting a bill to Biden’s desk . They published a “discharge petition” with 195 signatories to terminate Johnson and force a vote on this bill. It needs 218 votes to pass, meaning it will need support from some Republicans in addition to Democrats.

In a meeting Wednesday with Democrats, House Minority Whip Katherine Clark, D-Mass., told members they should use their “personal relationships” with Republicans to build support for the petition discharge, according to two people familiar with his comments.

Treasury Secretary Yellen steps up the pressure

In a bilateral meeting Wednesday with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen plans to step up pressure on House Republicans to act.

“The failure of House Republicans to act for so long to support Ukraine at this crucial moment in the war is inexcusable – and detrimental to our national security,” Yellen will say, according to a Treasury source. “Every moment of delay by House Republicans strengthens Putin and emboldens America’s adversaries around the world, who are closely watching whether we, the United States, maintain our resolve to support a democratic Ukraine while fending off a Russian autocratic. »

Meanwhile, Greene has not said when she might force a vote on her “motion to vacate” the speaker’s chair, which would require a simple majority to remove Johnson from office. His efforts gained a co-sponsor in Massie on Tuesday, who predicted Johnson would be voted out.

It’s not clear the votes are there to oust Johnson. Many conservatives, including those who voted to impeach former President Kevin McCarthy, have not joined the effort to oust Johnson. Some Democrats also said they would vote to protect Johnson from a motion to impeach him.

But Massie said that would only hurt his standing with the GOP in the long run.

“Then he goes deeper into the hole with the Republicans. It becomes toxic for the conference. For every Democrat that comes to his aid, he will lose 2-3 more Republicans,” Massie said. “It doesn’t have much shelf life after that.”

Johnson struck a defiant tone Tuesday when asked about the threat to his gavel, calling it “absurd” while saying he was “not concerned” about the motion and that he would continue to do its job.

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With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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