Latest News

Johnson outlines specific foreign aid plan as it hangs by thread

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Speaker Mike Johnson has released a specific outline of his four-part proposal to send aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, moving ahead with the plan that’s fueling fresh conservative demands for his ouster.

Aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan is split into three different bills, with a fourth that would seize Russian assets, force a TikTok sale and impose sanctions on Iran. Bill text on the first three is expected imminently, while language on the fourth should come later Wednesday. Some of the assistance would be conditioned as a loan, along with mandates for military strategy and oversight.

After meeting late into the night Tuesday with various House GOP lawmakers, Johnson has decided to also move to tee up debate on a separate border security measure, which includes what GOP leaders are calling “core components” of H.R. 2, the House-passed border security and immigration bill favored by conservatives. A vote to debate that package will not be linked to the foreign aid measures, however, and amendments will be allowed.

The fate of the newly unveiled bills — and of the speaker’s leadership tenure — will become clearer as the week goes on, with Johnson facing conflicting demands for action to support U.S. allies after Iran’s weekend attack on Israel. The speaker’s first test will be whether he can get enough votes to tee up floor debate on the foreign aid measures that several House hardliners have already threatened to block.

Despite the border component of the deal, conservatives are already vowing to block the bills. House Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good (R-Va.) called on “every true conservative” to tank the package before text was released, and Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said that he would oppose bringing them to the floor.

“The Republican Speaker of the House is seeking a rule to pass almost $100 billion in foreign aid — while unquestionably, dangerous criminals, terrorists, & fentanyl pour across our border. The border ‘vote’ in this package is a watered-down dangerous cover vote,” Roy posted on X.

Releasing text of the bills would technically start a 72-hour countdown ahead of final passage, if the speaker upholds his commitment to a House rule granting lawmakers three full days to review bill text. In a text to House lawmakers midday Wednesday, the speaker said the House will have time “for a robust amendment process,” predicting final passage Saturday evening.

Congressional Democrats and the White House are quietly watching the speaker try to get through his latest predicament, after Johnson sat for nine weeks on a bipartisan $95 billion foreign assistance package that the Senate passed overwhelmingly in February. Seeking Democratic help in getting aid bills through the House would likely further inflame conservative calls to fire the speaker; Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) has signed onto Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) ouster proposal.

When Johnson announced broad contours of the plan Monday night, he predicted that the House would pass foreign aid before departing for a previously scheduled week-long recess.

“We had a lot of heavy lifts here in the House in the last couple of months, and we finally got to this priority — it is a priority. I do expect that this will be done this week,” the speaker said. “And we’ll be able to leave knowing that we’ve done our job here.”

An ample number of conservatives have signaled concerns over the fact that Johnson is likely to need at least some Democratic votes to begin debate on the bills.

Democrats, led by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, have urged Johnson to grant a vote to the Senate package, which would go straight to President Joe Biden’s desk if it passes.

Some efforts to court Democrats are already underway. Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), who led talks to craft a bipartisan foreign aid proposal, said he’s spoken to centrist Democrats in the Problem Solvers Caucus about voting in support of teeing up debate, to make up for Republican defections.

Democrats aren’t committing to help Johnson out yet on the process, signaling their votes will be dependent on the content of the bills.

“I’ll follow leadership on this,” said Washington Rep. Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. “If they get this together, and it’s sensible and stuff that the White House and Hakeem can live with, then yeah, I’d vote for that rule.”

Caitlin Emma contributed to this report.