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House OKs funds for allies but not the border

Funds for Ukraine, Israel, and others add up to $95 billion

Activists show support for Ukraine outside the U.S. Capitol on Saturday. Associated Press/Photo by J. Scott Applewhite

House OKs funds for allies but not the border

After months of impasse, the House of Representatives voted on Saturday to pass four separate funding packages for Israel, Ukraine, and the Indo-Pacific, along with a sidecar bill containing a slew of additional provisions, all totaling $95 billion in aid. A bill on border security also came to the floor on Saturday but failed to garner the needed support.

Rep. Marcus Molinaro, R-N.Y., said he is headed back to his district for a weeklong recess with good news.

“I represent a very vibrant Ukrainian-American population, a very vibrant Jewish, Israeli-American population,” Molinaro said. “I’m confident that my vote not only reflects what’s best for the people I serve but also for this country. It’s critically important that America shows stability and leadership to our allies and makes clear to our enemies that we mean business.”

Most Republicans shared Molinaro’s view. But a contingent of the chamber’s most conservative lawmakers saw the bills as a failure on the part of House Speaker Mike Johnson. They believe Democrats outmaneuvered Johnson again by managing to pass aid for Ukraine without approving border security enhancements. It’s a small group of conservatives but already big enough to threaten the speaker’s job.

The Senate will consider the four bills as one giant amendment to legislation passed in February, the National Security Act of 2024. That means the Senate must vote on all four bills at once instead of considering each provision individually as the House did.

Because Johnson used a parliamentary move called a suspension of the rules to bring the border security bill up for a vote, it needed a two-thirds majority to pass. The bill would have increased the criminal penalties for interfering with border security. It had the votes of all Republicans but just five Democrats.

Republicans such as Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., said Johnson set up the border security bill to fail by forcing it to stand on its own and not as a rider to one of the foreign aid bills. Good said the Ukraine aid package is another iteration of a pattern in which Republicans advance a Democratic priority and get nothing in return.

“Most of the bills that we pass, the Senate is going to ignore,” Good said. “They have very different priorities for the country than we do, but we have leverage when Democrats are desperate to get more Ukraine money. All of those were leverage points we could have used and failed to use to secure the border.”

Good pointed to similar negotiations on national defense at the end of last year, the government funding fight in March, and recent negotiations over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

What do Republicans have to show for any of those negotiations, Good asked? Did any of their own priorities become law?

For members like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., the clear-cut answer is no. Last month, Greene introduced a motion to vacate—a procedural step that could force a vote to remove Johnson as speaker.

“This is the kind of betrayal that voters are absolutely fed up with,” Greene said of the Ukraine bill. “He is the Democrat speaker.”

Reps. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., and Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., have joined Greene in sponsoring the motion to vacate. If all 213 Democrats voted to remove Johnson, it would only take two Republicans to win a majority and ensure the motion’s success. Greene hasn’t started the clock on her motion, but she already has the support needed to pose a serious challenge to the speaker.

Good said he does not see eye to eye with Johnson, but vacating the speaker and throwing the GOP into disarray would be a mistake for now.

“I think the prudent thing to do would be to have that contest in November,” Good said, referencing the interparty elections that typically happen after general elections. “I’m not going to speculate on who may or may not run, but the speaker is auditioning for the job come November.”

Johnson said that if he had included the border provisions as a component of his parliamentary maneuver, it would have jeopardized the aid package as a whole. He told reporters shortly after the vote that he was at peace with his decision.

“As I’ve said many times, I don’t walk around this building being worried about a motion to vacate,” Johnson said. “I have to do my job. I’ve done here what I believe to be the right thing and that is to allow the house to work its will.”

President Joe Biden applauded the House’s votes.

“I urge the Senate to quickly send this package to my desk so that I can sign it into law and we can quickly send weapons and equipment to Ukraine to meet their urgent battlefield needs,” the president said in a statement on Saturday.

The Senate is set to consider the bills on Tuesday.

Leo Briceno

Leo is a WORLD politics reporter based in Washington, D.C. He’s a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and has a degree in political journalism from Patrick Henry College.


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