Speaker Johnson faces big questions about Ukraine aid and job security this week

The House is set to return to Washington on Tuesday, when lawmakers will once again be faced with the question of what to do about providing aid to Ukraine as the country continues to ward off an invasion from Russia. 

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is planning to move forward with advancing some sort of Ukraine aid bill, although the Republican leader faces several paths he could take to do so. Meanwhile, Johnson must also contend with threats to oust him from his leadership position if he moves forward with providing funds to Ukraine, backing the speaker into a corner. 

Johnson has laid out three main components he said should be included in the legislation, including a bipartisan proposal known as the REPO Act. If included, the provision would seek to seize frozen Russian assets and transfer them to the Ukrainian government to fight against the Kremlin — a move that Johnson said would be “pure poetry.”

Another proposal would be to provide assistance to Ukraine as a loan payment that could be repaid once the war is over, a caveat that former President Donald Trump supports.

“There’s a lot of things we should do that make more sense, and we’re putting that product together,” Johnson told Fox News last week. 

Johnson is expected to meet with lawmakers throughout the week to discuss options for a funding bill as members on both sides of the aisle have disagreed on what measures to include in the legislation. 

There are now two competing discharge petitions circulating among House lawmakers seeking to bring Ukraine aid to the floor, although neither proposal has reached the minimum support needed to advance without Johnson’s approval. However, lawmakers behind one of those petitions have expressed support for including some of Johnson’s proposals in order to get legislation moving through the House.

“We’re open to changes,” Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE), one of the leaders on a bipartisan discharge petition to advance a foreign aid bill, told the Washington Examiner. “I also fully agree with [Johnson] that we shouldn’t just give a blank check to the White House. We should be direct about what kind of weapons we need to send.”

“We got to get something passed,” Bacon added. “If we don’t get this done, it’s possible that the Russians could be in Kyiv by January, and that’s unacceptable.”

But moving forward with providing aid to Ukraine also poses Johnson’s most significant threat to his speakership since taking the gavel in October. 

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) filed a motion to vacate against the speaker shortly before lawmakers left town for their Easter recess, holding the threat over Johnson’s head as a warning not to advance legislation to support Ukraine. 

Any aid bill would likely require significant Democratic support to pass the House, which could spark ire among House Republicans who have repeatedly criticized Johnson for relying on the other party to pass legislation. Relying on Democrats to pass aid for Ukraine, a move that several hard-line Republicans are already rejecting, could be the trigger for Greene to follow through with her ouster threat. 

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“He’s supposed to pass things under regular order. Everything is supposed to go through the Rules Committee. We’re supposed to have 72 hours to read bills,” Greene told the Washington Examiner last week. “He’s going to bring this thing under suspension and probably not allow any of us to make amendments. … It’s like tying Republicans’ hands behind our back and not allowing us to make any changes.”

Johnson has pushed back on the threat of a motion to vacate, decrying the move as a “distraction” in his interview with Fox News. The speaker said he would have a discussion with Greene on how to move forward, indicating the threat would not halt him from bringing some Ukraine aid to the floor.

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