Johnson’s Reversal Could Signal a Lasting Shift on U.S. Aid to Ukraine

Johnson’s Reversal Could Signal a Lasting Shift on U.S. Aid to Ukraine
U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson attends a press event at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, April 11, 2024 (Sipa photo by Graeme Sloan via AP Images).

“America always does the right thing, after exhausting all other possibilities.” Those words, attributed to Winston Churchill, perfectly capture what finally transpired late last week, when the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a series of supplemental defense spending bills earmarking military aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. The Senate followed suit earlier this week, and President Joe Biden signed the bills into law Wednesday.

The largest portion of the combined supplemental spending, at just over $60 billion, is for Ukraine. It was also the most controversial. For months, the House’s desire to support Ukraine has been blocked by a small coterie of members from the GOP’s MAGA wing aligned with former President Donald Trump. In the fall, they orchestrated the removal of the previous speaker of the house—former Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a fellow Republican—over his willingness to work with Democrats to narrowly avoid a government shutdown.

Since then, McCarthy’s successor as speaker, Rep. Mike Johnson, has effectively blocked the supplemental defense spending for Ukraine, at first by insisting it be tied to border legislation opposed by Democrats and later by simply refusing to bring the bill to the House floor, where it was always certain to pass over the MAGA faction’s opposition due to the bipartisan backing it enjoys.

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