Republican Speaker Johnson makes fresh push for Ukraine aid

Published April 2, 2024

Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson has a plan for getting new military assistance for Ukraine approved by Congress – and for keeping his tenuous hold on power.

With Democrats wary and a Republican right flank eyeing open rebellion, however, Mr Johnson may find that even the best-laid plans could quickly unravel.

The Louisiana congressman told Fox News he would push the House – which has the narrowest of Republican majorities – to structure new Ukraine support in the form of loans.

To help cover the costs he suggested authorising the US government to seize and sell Russian assets frozen since the start of the Ukraine war.

“If we can use the seized assets of Russian oligarchs to allow the Ukrainians to fight them, that’s just pure poetry,” said Mr Johnson.

An estimated $300bn (£239bn) in Russian central bank assets have been frozen – although most of this is under European, not American, control.

As an additional sweetener for his Republican colleagues, he also proposed tying the passage of Ukraine aid to legislation ending a hold on new liquefied natural gas export authorisations. The hold was imposed by the Biden administration in January at the behest of environmental activists.



RELATED: Senate faces tough choice on Speaker Johnson’s Ukraine vision

Volunteers and students of Kyiv State Arts Academy clear away rubble after the academy was partly ruined during a Russian missile attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 30, 2024. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), right, has repeatedly pressed Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), left, to bring the senate Ukraine funding bill to the House floor; Johnson says the House will take up the bill after the April recess but one that will be different than what the upper chamber passed in February.
Published April 1, 2024

The Senate faces a tough choice on Ukraine aid as Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) says the House will move a Ukraine package after the April recess, but one that could be strikingly different from the $95 billion package the upper chamber passed in February.

The Speaker has already told Republican senators that a substantial portion of the assistance in the House bill would be provided in the form of a loan, an idea championed by former President Trump but initially dismissed by Senate leaders in both parties.

Johnson has signaled the House will take action on a Ukraine assistance bill in the next few weeks but hasn’t shared many details about what the package will look like.

Now senators must decide whether to wave off Johnson’s latest gambit or swallow a Ukraine package that falls short of what they envisioned.

Given the dire situation on the eastern Ukrainian front, where Ukrainian troops are running out of weapons and ammunitions, even senators who were initially skeptical about setting up a complicated loan program are warming up to the idea of taking whatever the House sends across the Capitol.

Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.) acknowledged Monday that Congress is running out of time to help Ukraine and the Senate may be forced to accept whatever passes the House.



RELATED: A Vote On Ukraine Aid Will Be Held After The Easter Recess, According to Speaker Johnson

Published April 2, 2024

On Easter Sunday, House Speaker Mike Johnson pledged to be an “ambassador of hope” by voting on military aid for Ukraine, despite opposition led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for approving a government funding package before the holiday recess.

During an Easter Sunday interview with Fox News, Johnson confirmed his intention to urge Congress to provide further aid to Kyiv’s war against Russia.

The New York Post reports,

“If we could use the seized assets of Russian oligarchs to allow the Ukrainians to fight them, that’s just pure poetry,” the House speaker said on “Sunday Night in America with Trey Gowdy.”

“Even President Trump has talked about the loan concept,” added Johnson, 52. “We’re not just giving foreign aid — we’re setting it up in a relationship where they can provide it back to us when the time is right.”

“ And then, you know, we want to unleash American energy,” he also said. “We want to have natural gas exports that will help unfund [Russian President] Vladimir Putin’s war effort there.”

Johnson has consistently voiced opposition to Russia’s actions and supported Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, although he voted against $60 billion in funding for Ukraine without any limitations.




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