Johnson Pledges U.S. Commitment, Seeks Solution for Ukraine Situation

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TL/DR –

Speaker Mike Johnson has privately expressed support for continued American aid to Ukraine, often citing his political roots as a Reagan Republican and viewing the move as vital. However, he is grappling with a growing isolationist wing of his party that views such aid as politically toxic and could even call for his removal. Johnson has voiced interest in linking Ukraine aid to a measure aimed at reversing the Biden administration’s freeze on liquefied natural gas exports, intending to reduce reliance on Russian gas, and is also contemplating options such as imposing new sanctions against Russia, structuring the aid as straight assistance versus a loan, or including nonmilitary assistance.


Speaker Mike Johnson Tackles Ukraine Aid Amid Opposition

Speaker Mike Johnson shared his stance on aid for Ukraine amidst fierce internal opposition during a private fundraiser in New Jersey. He emphasized the necessity of continued American aid to Kyiv, a view contrary to his party’s hard-right stance. Johnson, a self-proclaimed Reagan Republican, described the situation as a “delicate political tightrope.”

Johnson assured Jacquie Colgan, a member of the American Coalition for Ukraine, that they will do their job, reflecting his recent private conversations with donors, foreign leaders, and Congress members. He has shown a inclination to send aid to Ukraine, refuting his previous votes against such assistance.

However, any aid measures potentially anger the isolationist faction of his party. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene threatens to call for his removal if he allows a Ukraine aid vote before implementing restrictive immigration measures. Greene recently filed a resolution signaling her intent.

Despite this, Johnson could retain his position with support from a “reasonable number” of Democrats, as suggested by Representative Hakeem Jeffries. Johnson expressed future plans to address the supplemental funding request upon lawmakers’ return from the Easter recess.

He has also considered linking Ukraine aid to a measure counteracting the Biden administration’s suspension of liquefied natural gas exports. Johnson argues that the current ban on new domestic energy exports boosts reliance on Russian gas, benefiting Ukraine’s enemy.

Balancing aid to Ukraine with assistance for other allies, such as Israel and Taiwan, presents a dilemma. Legislation carrying Ukraine aid would necessitate a two-thirds majority for passage, heavily dependent on Democratic votes. A collective aid package for Ukraine and Israel, like the one passed by the Senate previously, may fail due to Republican and Democratic opposition.

Johnson has also contemplated imposing new sanctions against Russia and structuring the aid as either direct assistance or a loan. He and Representative Michael McCaul have suggested selling off frozen Russian sovereign assets under the REPO Act to finance some aid.

International pressure on Johnson to permit a vote on aid to Ukraine has escalated, with frequent contact from NATO allies and pro-Ukraine activists. Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland publicly urged Johnson to take responsibility during his recent visit to Washington.

Despite skepticism from Ukraine backers, Johnson was candid about his strategy during the New Jersey fundraiser. He is striving to find the best route forward, which could include packaging aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan together or addressing each separately.

At another fundraiser in New York’s Hudson Valley, activists from the Together for Ukraine Foundation pressed him on holding an aid vote. Johnson responded by reassuring them, “I will take care of this.”

However, despite Johnson’s assurances, a vote on aid for Ukraine has yet to materialize, raising doubts about his commitment.

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