Johnson’s statement comes after he and other House leaders helped torpedo an earlier version of the bill that included sweeping border security measures and other reforms.
The Senate will vote on the bill Monday evening, with final passage expected within the next 30 hours, depending on how long the bill’s Republican opponents continue to delay its progress in protest.
This aid package was long awaited by the White House, which requested the funds in October, shortly after Hamas attacked Israel. Republicans, including Johnson, demanded a border security element be attached in exchange for their votes, but then abandoned the bipartisan border deal that was released earlier this month in the face of opposition of former President Donald Trump.
Johnson said the Senate should have “gone back to the drawing board to amend the current bill to include real border security provisions that would actually help end the ongoing catastrophe.”
Funding Ukraine has become unpopular among the Republican Party’s base voters, and Trump said at a recent rally that he would encourage Russia to do “whatever it wants” to NATO countries. who he says don’t spend enough money on defense.
But efforts are underway to bypass Johnson and pass the bill through a Democratic-led discharge petition, if the Senate passes the legislation. Democrats need to gather at least four signatures from Republicans who support funding Ukraine to present the petition, which likely won’t happen before the end of the month, given the congressional schedule. Its path would still be tricky in the House, given that some Democrats have opposed the Israeli government’s handling of the war in Gaza, where most homes have been destroyed or damaged, more than 12,300 children have been killed and a quarter of the population is starving, according to the United Nations. It would require enough Republicans to support the bill to compensate for Democrats who do not vote for the Israel aid bill.
Introducing the bill through a discharge petition — which requires support from 218 members — would spare Johnson from having his fingerprints on the additional proposal amid calls from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga. .) and others to remove him from his post as president. if he submits a bill on financing Ukraine for a vote in the House.
In addition to the $60 billion for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel, the national security legislation also includes more than $9 billion in humanitarian aid to Gaza, Ukraine and others country, dedicates nearly $5 billion to Indo-Pacific allies including Taiwan, and bars U.S. funding from law to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency operating in Gaza and in the West Bank, following allegations that some of its employees were involved in the October 7 Hamas attack.
The Pentagon said Ukraine urgently needed the aid and was at risk of running out of munitions as it continues to repel a Russian invasion that began in 2022.
The vote comes as Trump has made his opposition to NATO part of his campaign message. At a rally Saturday, Trump said he told the president of a NATO country that he “wouldn’t protect” his country if Russia attacked it because it wasn’t spending enough on defense . “In fact, I would encourage [Russia] do what they want,” Trump told this unidentified president.
Trump’s presence weighed on the aid package in Congress, as some Republicans echoed his rhetoric opposed to sending aid to Ukraine, then later rejected the border deal they demanded after Trump said he didn’t like him. GOP senators have been deeply divided over how to proceed on the aid package, with some critics saying Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has led them into a political box, in which Democrats claimed the political advantage on border security after the GOP defected from the border deal that the generally pro-Republican Border Patrol union had endorsed.
“Why did Republicans stab their voters in the back? » Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio) asked on the Senate floor Monday, referring to the decision to vote for the package without securing the southern border. (Vance, along with almost all Republicans, voted against the border security bill last week.)
A vocal faction of McConnell critics has grown louder in recent days, with a handful even calling for his ouster, as Senate Republicans gathered in meeting after meeting to discuss the uncomfortable political situation in which they are located. “Clearly, there are more objections to foreign involvement in the Senate today than ever before,” McConnell told The Washington Post in an interview last week. But he said he was “prepared to accept pressure” to impose a politically divisive issue.
Marianna Sotomayor contributed to this report.
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