Sun. May 19th, 2024

Speaker Johnson faces Ukraine aid dilemma and a threat to his job as Congress returns

By 37ci3 Apr8,2024

WASHINGTON – When Congress returns from its two-week recess, all eyes will be on House Speaker Mike Johnson. the ever-diminishing Republican majority – and a the extreme right threatens to remove him from office.

At the top of the list of controversial issues is a The military aid package to Ukraine has been suspended for a long time and other allies. Also the line is approaching deadlines to renew controversial surveillance program April 19 and reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration in May.

And lawmakers are fighting over funding for a new bridge in Baltimore The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge over the break. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told colleagues that in the coming months, the upper chamber will discuss rail safety, child’s online safety and TikTok legislation After the house adoption of the bill It could ban the social media app in the US

After just five months in the job, Johnson is back in the hot seat, facing immense political and international pressure to deliver on his promise to deliver new aid to Ukraine. While he has promised to put billions in foreign aid into the House once lawmakers return, it is one of his most vocal critics, R-Ga. Rep. It could lead to a vote to remove Marjorie Taylor Green from the speakership. An ally of Donald Trump, who opposes Ukraine aid and wants to focus instead on the US border.

Greene made the first move to oust Johnson just before the House went into recess for two weeks, but stopped short of forcing a vote.

“We are losing our country to illegal occupation – it happens every day on our southern border. “I’m very upset about it because the American people are upset about it,” he said Tucker Carlson’s show at X. “This is not the Republican speaker we have right now; it’s the Democratic Speaker of the House because there is zero daylight between what Nancy Pelosi did in the last Congress and what Mike Johnson is doing now as our so-called Republican Speaker.

Republicans’ fragile, two-seat lead over Democrats means only a handful of GOP rebels can unite with all Democrats to end Johnson’s rhetoric that ousted his predecessor, Kevin McCarthy. Some Democrats say it might Save Johnson if such a vote takes place, although Johnson’s allies believe the comments weaken his standing in his own party.

If Greene or another Republican forces a vote to oust Johnson, only a simple majority will remove him as speaker.

Basic control power

Republican disagreements over surveillance powers under Section 702 of FISA could also affect Johnson’s fate. A faction of influential conservatives — including members of the House Freedom Caucus and its former leader, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio — is calling for reforms to limit federal powers to spy on Americans. Two conservative aides said they were upset that members bypassed House Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner, R-Ohio, to expand Johnson’s powers. Turners legislation It doesn’t go as far as the Jordan-led bill, but it includes reforms such as reducing the number of FBI agents authorized to approve US personal searches and requiring an independent audit of all such searches.

On Friday, Johnson urged his conference to support a newly released compromise bill called the Intelligence Reform and Surveillance Act. In a letter to his conference, Johnson said passage of the legislation is “critically important.”

“If our bill fails, we will face an impossible choice and expect the Senate to shut us down with a clean extension without any reforms,” ​​he said, warning Republicans that the Democratic-controlled upper chamber could decide the issue. Capitalize GOP divisions. “This is clearly an unacceptable option.”

The House could vote on the bill next week after a confidential all-member briefing with intelligence community officials on Wednesday.

Ukraine and Israel help

The Senate approved a $95 billion supplement in February aid package For Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. Johnson rejected the bill, but did not tip his hand on how he would build his package. Hill Democrats and the White House poured cold water on Johnson’s pitch to end Ukraine aid to President Joe Biden’s repeal of the new plan’s break. liquefied natural gas export terminals. But coordinating assistance to what is offered REPO Act — that would seize the assets of Russian oligarchs and use the proceeds Help pay for the Ukrainian war effort – is gaining steam.

The speaker, who has insisted for months that he would not approve new aid to Ukraine without passing a tough border policy, reiterated this point in his response to Green’s criticism: “Any funding for the president’s additional request must be based on meaningful policies to help America. people and finally address the invasion of our southern border.

Meanwhile, a growing group of Democrats have said they oppose unconditional lethal aid to Israel, especially after the killing of seven aid workers. World Center Kitchen in Gaza last week. Some prefer to wait until May 8, when Israel must certify that it is complying with international law in order to receive continued US military support.

The Senate had tied aid to both nations, but if the U.S. delays sending aid to Ukraine until mid-May, it could be as devastating as Kiev. running out of ammotrying to prevent the Russian invasion.

“This is a real dilemma because there is an existential urgency to get aid to Ukraine. They’re running out of ammunition,” D-Vt. Senator Peter Welch told NBC News. “I think the support for aid to Israel is decreasing in the House of Representatives. In my opinion, we should vote for both separately.”

Johnson said he was open to holding separate votes. But at the same time, in his Republican conference, aid to Israel is more popular than aid to Ukraine. The Senate-passed package, which joins issues stalled in the House for nearly two months, may be Johnson’s only option, according to many Republican and Democratic lawmakers, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

Former Navy helicopter pilot DN.J. “It’s too late to try this at the eleventh hour,” said representative Mikie Sherrill. “If you don’t pass the Senate bill, the coalitions will collapse. At present, it is almost impossible.”

House Republicans planned to vote next week on a texting bill that would reprimand Biden last calls For an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza. He is trying to capitalize on divisions among Democrats in an increasingly tense political landscape, whose bases are wedged between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups.

Impeachment of Majorcans

House Republicans in February announced impeachment Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is expected to introduce both articles of impeachment to the Senate on Wednesday over his work on the border. Senators will be sworn in to begin the trial Thursday afternoon, and Democratic leaders believe they will quickly end the process that day.

Democrats believe they have 51 votes to quickly debate or reject the articles. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the most conservative Democrat, blasted Mayorkas’ impeachment efforts as “ridiculous” and told Republicans to take their concerns to the ballot box if they don’t like Mayorkas’ handling of immigration.

Retiring Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an independent from Arizona, is expected to vote with Democrats and does not support the Mayorkas trial, two sources with knowledge of her position told NBC News.

Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla. and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Sinema worked for weeks with Mayorkas to craft a bipartisan border package that was blocked by Republicans within days. He sharply criticized the other side of the aisle, calling the move “political theater” and blasting GOP leaders for backing away from the need for legislation to fix the problem.

Meanwhile, Republicans are expected to push for full impeachment in the Senate.

There is also the possibility that a handful of moderate Republicans could side with the Democrats in rejecting Mallorca’s articles of impeachment. The administration will work hard to prevent that from happening, said two GOP aides with knowledge of the process.

The Baltimore Bridge blew up

The unexpected and fatal collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26 added another item to Congress’ full plate and created another headache for Johnson.

within one visit In Baltimore on Friday, Biden — along with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore — urged Congress to quickly pass funding for the new bridge. Some guesses put the price tag 400 million dollars.

“As the governor knows, I absolutely intend for the federal government to pay for the construction of this bridge – all of it, all of it – as we do in other parts of the country under similar circumstances,” Biden said, with an underwater steel truss in his background. “I stand here urging Congress to authorize these efforts as soon as possible.”

But that same day, the Freedom Caucus, a thorn in Johnson’s side, violated several conditions on emergency federal funding for the new bridge: The costs must be offset by cuts elsewhere; federal regulations “must be waived to avoid all unnecessary delay and expense”; and funding should be limited to repairs to physical structures and not go to unrelated projects.

In addition, the Freedom Caucus is demanding that the Biden administration’s LNG export freeze be “rescinded before Congress considers allocating any funds to rebuild the bridge.”

The Freedom Caucus’ long list of demands adds to the group’s complicated and often thorny relationship with Johnson, who is trying to survive this Congress. A short-term member of the caucus, Johnson has a mixed record on similar emergency disaster relief aid; he voted for some disaster packages and opposed others.

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By 37ci3

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