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House Speaker Johnson pushes ahead on aid for Ukraine, Israel

WASHINGTON (AP) – Defiant and determined, House Speaker Mike Johnson On Tuesday, he pushed back against growing Republican anger over the proposed U.S. aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other allies, and rejected calls to step down or risk a vote to oust him from office. its functions.

“I’m not resigning,” Johnson said after a testy morning meeting of his House Republican colleagues at the Capitol.

Johnson called himself a “wartime Speaker of the House” and indicated, in his strongest self-defense, that he would continue his action in United States National Security Assistance Programa situation that would force him to rely on Democrats to help him pass it, despite the objections of his weakened majority.

“We’re just here trying to do our job,” Johnson said, calling the motion to oust him “absurd…pointless.”

But as night fell, the president’s determination came up against Republican opposition to his project.

For hours, Johnson holed up at the Capitol with lawmakers examining their alternative strategies, particularly ways to couple U.S.-Mexico border security measures into the package. No legislation has been released, putting in serious doubt the adoption of any aid this week.

“We’ll see,” Johnson said of the legislation, heading into a meeting that stretched into midnight.

On Tuesday, House Republicans and the president himself initially changed their tune at a pivotal moment as the embattled leader tried, against the wishes of his majority, to muster the votes needed to send aid to national security blocked for Israel, Ukraine and other overseas allies along the way.

Johnson appeared emboldened by his meeting late last week at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida when the former Republican president threw him a political lifeline with a sign of support. At his own press conference on Tuesday, Johnson spoke about the importance of ensuring that Trump, now in office, criminal trial in New York, is re-elected to the White House.

Johnson also spoke over the weekend with President Joe Biden and other congressional leaders about the new American aid plan, which the speaker plans to propose in separate votes for each section – with bills for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific region. He spoke to Biden about it again Monday evening.

After Johnson briefed the president, White House officials said they were taking a wait-and-see approach until the text of the president’s plan is released and the procedural process becomes clearer.

“It appears at first glance that the speaker’s proposal will, in fact, help us provide assistance to Ukraine, Israel, and needed resources in the Indo-Pacific for a wide range of contingencies there,” said John Kirby, chief executive of the White House. the national security spokesperson told reporters on Tuesday.

The speaker is considering a complex approach that would split the Senate’s $95 billion aid package for separate votes, then either stitch it back together or send the components to the Senate for final passage, and potentially to the White House for signing Of the president.

In total, this would require the president to reconcile bipartisan majorities with different factions of House Republicans and Democrats on each measure.

Additionally, Johnson is preparing a fourth measure that would include various national security priorities favored by Republicans, such as a plan to seize some Russian assets in U.S. banks to help finance Ukraine and another plan to transform aid economic to Ukraine in loans. It could also include provisions to sanction Iran for its weekend attack on Israel, among other things.

The president’s new plan isn’t automatically a deal-breaker for Democrats in the House and Senate, but the more Republicans try to pile on their priorities, the more they push Democrats away from compromise.

During their own closed-door meeting, Leader Hakeem Jeffries said House Democrats would not accept a “cent less” than the $9 billion in relief aid senators included in their package aid to Gaza, according to a person who requested anonymity to discuss it. .

Johnson will need Democratic votes to pass some aspects of his plan, but Democratic support for Israel is declining in both the House and Senate, amid the Netanyahu government’s retaliatory bombing of Gaza that has left 30,000 dead. A previous Republican Party bill for Israel slashed aid to Gaza.

House Republicans, meanwhile, were furious that Johnson left aside their top priority — efforts to impose more security on the U.S.-Mexico border. Some predict that Johnson will not be able to vote on the package this week, as planned.

Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., called the morning meeting an “argument fest.”

When the speaker said the House GOP’s priority HR 2 border security bill would not be considered relevant to the package, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, a lead sponsor, said stated that it was up to the House to determine which provisions and amendments were relevant.

“Things are absolutely not resolved,” Roy said.

The speaker faces an ouster threat from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., the top Trump ally who filed the suit. motion to leave speaker from office in an early vote — much like Republicans ousted their former president, Kevin McCarthy, last fall.

Although Greene has not said if or when she will force the debate, and has not found much support for her plan after last year’s turmoil over McCarthy’s departure, she has attracted at least some support key Tuesday.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., stood up during the meeting and suggested that Johnson step down, citing the example of John Boehner, an even longer-serving House speaker who announced an early resignation in 2015 rather than risk a vote to oust him. according to the Republicans present in the room.

“President Johnson must announce a resignation date and allow Republicans to elect a new president to put America first and embrace a Republican agenda,” Greene wrote on social media, thanking Massie for his support of his motion to resign.

Johnson did not respond, but told lawmakers they had a “binary choice” before them.

The speaker explained that they were either trying to pass the package as proposed or risk facing a discharge petition from Democrats that would force a vote on their preferred package – the measure approved by the Senate . But that would leave aside additional Republican priorities.

Johnson later gained significant support from six Republican committee chairmen in a unified show of force.

“There is nothing our adversaries would love more than if Congress failed to pass critical national security assistance,” said Reps. Tom Cole of Appropriations, Ken Calvert of the House Appropriations Subcommittee. defense, Mario Diaz-Balart of state appropriations and foreign operations. subcommittee, Mike Rogers of the Armed Services Committee, Michael McCaul of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Mike Turner of the Intelligence Committee in a joint statement.

“We have no time to lose,” the presidents said. “We need to pass this aid package this week.”

As the House debates, Ukraine faces growing difficulties in its fight against the Russian invasion.

Lawmakers have stepped up efforts to explain to Americans that foreign aid to Ukraine is largely intended for U.S. defense manufacturers to support the production of missiles, munitions and other military supplies then sent to the stranger.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on social media this week that the response of the United States and other countries to the Iranian attack on Israel showed the potential of what could be done with “allied action.”


Associated Press writers Seung Min Kim, Farnoush Amiri and Stephen Groves contributed to this report.

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