For months, congressional Republicans have insisted that they won’t allow aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan to pass unless they also get big concessions on immigration. That was a purely political demand, egged on by Donald Trump, allowing them to change the subject to the border. Now that that demand is close to being met with a bipartisan deal in the Senate, Republicans have changed their tune, blatantly trying to keep this election-year issue alive. That’s made them look bad and left the critical aid package stranded, and now Republican leadership is reversing course and talking about splitting the two issues apart.
“It’s time for us to move something, hopefully including the border agreement,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told reporters, “but we need to get help to Israel and Ukraine quickly.”
Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a close ally of McConnell, agreed. “It would be nice to change the status quo on the border, but if there is not the political support to do that, then I think we should proceed with the rest of the supplemental,” he said.
House Speaker Mike Johnson appears to agree as well. He’s been in close contact with Trump on the issue and is adamantly opposed to bringing the Senate’s border bill to the floor, if the Senate passes it. But in a meeting with Baltic leaders this week, he signaled that he’s open to the separate Ukraine aid bill.
Speaking with reporters after the meeting, Lauri Hussar, the speaker of Estonia’s parliament, said Johnson expressed “his readiness” to deliver Ukraine aid, with Johnson saying there “should be a way to find a solution to the problems” and “domestic issues” in the way.
“Yesterday we had the opportunity to meet with various congressman, with committee leaders, and of course opinions are different, we heard different views, but overall we are pleased to say there’s broad support for Ukraine,” Daiga Mieriņa, the speaker of Latvia’s parliament, added. “Speaker Johnson also affirmed this close partnership [with the Baltics] and that this close partnership would continue going forward.”
Johnson does, however, face a political problem—namely, MAGA Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s threat to try to oust him over Ukraine aid. “I just told him [Johnson] it’s an absolute no-go,” Greene said. “If he funds $60 billion to fund a war in Ukraine to continue killing a whole generation of Ukrainian men—to continue a war that is a losing war, that [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky’s ready for peace talks—yeah, I would introduce the motion to vacate myself.”
Johnson brushed off the threat, saying he was “not worried” about being ousted, but the Freedom Caucus is restless and enraged at Johnson over the fact that he keeps working with the Senate and White House to keep the government functioning.
There’s a way around that opposition, if Johnson is willing to let his GOP colleagues take it. House Democrats have a discharge petition that’s left over from last spring’s debt ceiling fight. Basically, it’s a shell bill into which text can be inserted, and it has priority consideration on the House floor if it gets enough signatures to pass. Democrats have that legislative text ready to go. Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Florida Democrat, has already filed that supplemental aid bill, and it would take only a handful of Republicans signing on for the bill to be forced to the floor.
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EMILY's List has been devoted to electing pro-choice Democratic women for 40 years, a mission that's grown only more critical since the fall of Roe. Joining us on "The Downballot" this week is Christina Reynolds, one of EMILY's top officials, to tell us about how her organization recruits, supports, and advises women candidates at all levels of the ballot nationwide. Reynolds explains the unique challenges women face, from a lack of fundraising networks to judgments about their qualifications that never seem to stick to men. She tells us how Dobbs has—and hasn't—changed campaigning for EMILY's endorsees and spotlights a wide range of key races the group is involved in this year.