Speaker Johnson unveils complex proposal to pass aid to Ukraine and Israel

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Mike Johnson is seeking action this week on aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, unveiling a detailed plan Monday to split the package into separate votes to bridge the House's political divisions on foreign policy.

Confront outright rebellion From conservatives who staunchly oppose aid to Ukraine, the Republican House speaker's move on the foreign aid package was a potential watershed moment, the first significant action on the bill after… More than two months Of delay. But Johnson's intention to hold four separate votes on parts of the package also left it open to amend it significantly from the $95 billion aid package the Senate passed in February.

It is unclear whether the House might end up with a package similar to the Senate bill or something completely different, which could complicate months-long efforts to get Congress to approve military funding for Ukraine.

“We will leave the House of Representatives to carry out its will,” Johnson told reporters.

But as the House struggled to act, conflicts escalated around the world. The Israeli Chief of Staff said on Monday His country will respond to the Iranian missile strike at the end of the week. And The Chief of Staff of the Ukrainian Army warned over the weekend The situation on the battlefield in the east of the country “deteriorated significantly in recent days,” as warm weather allowed Russian forces to launch a new offensive.

“There are accelerating events around the world that we are all watching very carefully and know that the world is watching to see how we react,” Johnson said.

President Joe BidenVenezuela, which hosts Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala at the White House, called on the House of Representatives to immediately take up the Senate funding package. “They have to do it now,” he added.

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Johnson and Biden spoke on Monday, according to a person familiar with the call who declined to be identified to discuss it.

House Democrats could be open to helping Johnson pass aid in parts, and perhaps agree to some additional measures Republicans are discussing, such as providing some economic aid to Ukraine in the form of loans.

But Johnson will lose the Democratic support he needs if he deviates too far from Republican-only priorities. Any comprehensive overhaul of this package also risks setbacks in the Senate, where the bulk of Republicans oppose aid to Ukraine, and Democrats are increasingly concerned about the Israeli campaign in Gaza.

As House members returned to the Capitol on Monday evening, Johnson met with fellow GOP lawmakers to lay out his strategy for getting the funding package approved by the House. He said he would seek to bring the package to the House floor under a single debate rule that would allow separate votes on aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and other foreign policy proposals.

Johnson said that these proposals would organize some financing for Kiev in the form of loans, and allow the United States to seize the frozen assets of the Russian Central Bank and impose other sanctions on Iran.

The GOP caucus was packed with lawmakers differing in their approach to the conflict with Russia: Republican defense hawks, including top lawmakers on national security committees, pitting against populist conservatives who strongly oppose continued support for the battle for Kiev.

As often happens, the meeting turned into a free forum for ideas as Republicans tried to put their own stamp on the package but rarely found any unity. However, Johnson's plan had significant Republican support, Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., said as he left the meeting.

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“I don't like it,” he said. “But clearly I'm in the minority.”

However, Johnson's support for Ukraine aid could further incite populist conservatives already angry about his approaches as president.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, is already threatening to oust him as speaker. As she entered the GOP closed-door meeting on Monday, she said her message to the speaker was simple: “Don't fund Ukraine.”

But Greene did not clarify whether she would move to hold a quick vote on her motion to remove the speaker if aid to Ukraine is approved.

“I'm thinking about it,” she said.

Another unknown is how Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate who has objected to foreign aid, will respond to the proposal. Johnson met with Trump on Friday at his club in Florida.

“I don't spend my time worrying about eviction motions,” Johnson said Monday. “We have to govern here, and we will do our job.”

Democrats had pressured Johnson to simply agree to the bill passed by the Senate, which would provide a total of 100,000 retirement benefits. $95 billion to US alliesAs well as humanitarian support to civilians in Gaza and Ukraine.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said: “The House must rush to help Israel as quickly as possible, and the only way to do that is to pass the Senate supplemental bill as quickly as possible.”

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries pledged in a letter to lawmakers to do “everything in our legislative power to confront aggression” around the world, describing the situation as similar to that preceding World War II.

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Jeffries said: “The very serious events that occurred last weekend in the Middle East and Eastern Europe underscore the need for Congress to act immediately.” “We must take up the comprehensive national security bill approved by the Senate immediately.”

Democrats also circulated a last-minute option, known as a recall petition, that could force a vote on aid without the House speaker's approval. The petition received the signatures of 195 lawmakers, making it about ten votes short of the majority it needs.

But Republican backers of the Senate's Ukraine package appear encouraged by Johnson's plan, even though they have yet to see the details.

South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds said the House proposal could “significantly delay” the aid because it is four different measures that must be sent back to the Senate, and it is not clear whether the Senate can combine them into one measure. However, he said, “It's okay because we can still respond to it.”

On Monday afternoon, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell urged the House of Representatives to approve the Senate bill.

“We cannot hope to deter conflict without showing resolve and investing seriously in American power,” he said in a speech.

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Associated Press writers Kevin Freking, Farnoush Amiri and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed.

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