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Johnson pushes ahead on foreign aid bill, teeing up a weekend vote

By Catie Edmondson New York Times

WASHINGTON — Speaker Mike Johnson on Wednesday told Republicans that the House would vote Saturday evening on his foreign aid package for Israel and Ukraine, pushing through resistance in his own party to advance a long-stalled national security spending package for U.S. allies.

His announcement came amid a crush of opposition from Republicans who are vehemently against sending more aid to Ukraine, and have vented for days as congressional aides race to write the legislation Johnson proposed Monday.

The speaker, whose job is at risk as he defies his right flank on the measure, also announced that he would hold a separate vote on a border security bill “that includes the core components” of House Republicans’ stringent legislation passed in May that would crack down on unlawful immigration and revive severe Trump-era border restrictions. The move was a nod to ultraconservatives who have demanded that the speaker not advance aid to Ukraine without securing sweeping concessions from Democrats on immigration policy.

The legislative package Johnson is trying to advance roughly mirrors the $95 billion aid bill the Senate passed two months ago with aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and other U.S. allies, but he has proposed breaking that package into three pieces that would be voted on individually. There would be a fourth vote on a separate measure containing other policies popular among Republicans, including conditioning Ukraine aid as a loan and a measure that could lead to a nationwide TikTok ban.

Johnson released the text of the legislative package Wednesday afternoon.

The multipart plan has been painstakingly structured to cobble together just enough support from Democrats and mainstream Republicans to pass over the opposition of the hard right to funding for Ukraine and left-wing Democrats who do not support unfettered aid for Israel. If all four pieces passed the House, they would then be folded into a single bill for the Senate to take up, in an effort to ensure that senators could not cherry-pick pieces to approve or reject.

Its success will require everything to go right for Johnson this week to prevail.

Johnson has already faced a tough road since announcing his intent Monday evening to advance the aid package, over the vociferous objections of conservatives in his conference. On Tuesday, a GOP lawmaker announced he would join the bid to oust Johnson spearheaded last month by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

The speaker has met with a parade of Republicans who have tried to convince him to abandon his plan in favor of more partisan proposals, such as abandoning aid for Ukraine entirely. To ensure enough lawmakers attend the votes Saturday evening to allow for the legislative package’s passage, he has had to manage the schedules of lawmakers anxious to leave Washington this weekend to attend fundraisers and preplanned delegation trips abroad.

Johnson will also almost certainly need to rely on Democrats to provide the votes necessary to clear the way for it to come to the floor, in an unusual breaking of custom, and for the Ukraine aid itself. A number of Republicans have said they will vote to block the package from coming to the floor in protest.

“Every true conservative America First patriot in the House should vote against the rule for this borrowed foreign aid bill with no border security!” Rep. Bob Good of Virginia, the chair of the Freedom Caucus, wrote on social media.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.