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Facing a Republican revolt, House Speaker Johnson pushes ahead on US aid for Ukraine, allies

WASHINGTON — Defiant and determined, House Speaker Mike Johnson on Tuesday pushed back against mounting Republican anger over his proposed U.S. aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other allies, rejecting calls for him to step aside or risk that a vote would take place to remove him from office.

“I am not resigning,” Johnson said after a spirited morning meeting of fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives at the Capitol

Johnson called himself a “wartime speaker” of the House of Representatives and indicated that in his strongest self-defense he would still go ahead with a US national security aid package, a situation that would force him to rely on Democrats to deliver this help approve. objections from its weakened majority.

“We’re just trying to do our job here,” Johnson said, calling the motion to impeach him “absurd … not helpful.”

Tuesday marked a definitive change in tone from both House Republicans and the speaker himself at a crucial moment as the embattled leader, against the wishes of his majority, tries to muster the votes needed to move stalled national security aid to Israel, Ukraine and Israel. other overseas allies in transit.

Johnson appeared encouraged by his meeting late last week with Donald Trump, when the Republican former president threw him a political lifeline with a nod of support after their private conversation at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida. At his own press conference Tuesday, Johnson spoke of the importance of ensuring that Trump, now in his criminal trial in New York, is re-elected to the White House.

Johnson also spoke this weekend with President Joe Biden and other congressional leaders about the emerging U.S. aid package, which the speaker plans to introduce in separate votes for each section — including bills for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific region. He spoke about it again with Biden late on Monday.

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It’s a complicated approach that splits the Senate’s $95 billion relief package for separate votes, then puts it back together for the president’s signature.

The approach requires the speaker to assemble a bipartisan majority for each measure with different factions of Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives. In addition, Johnson is preparing a fourth measure that would include several Republican-favored national security priorities, such as a plan to seize some Russian assets in U.S. banks to help finance Ukraine and another plan to divert economic aid to Ukraine in loans.

The plan is not an automatic dealbreaker for Democrats in the House of Representatives and the Senate, with leaders refraining from commenting until they see the actual text of the measure, which will be released later Tuesday.

House Republicans, however, were furious that Johnson will sideline their top priority — efforts to impose more security on the U.S.-Mexico border. Some predicted that Johnson will not be able to go ahead with the vote on the package this week as planned.

Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., called the morning meeting an “argument fest.”

She said Johnson was “most certainly” losing support for the plan, but he seemed undaunted in his efforts to move forward despite “what the majority of the Conference” of Republicans wanted.

When the speaker said the Republican Party’s priority border security bill HR 2 would not be considered relevant to the package, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, a lead sponsor, said it would be up to the House to determine which provisions and amendments are relevant.

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“The cases are very unresolved,” Roy said.

Roy said Republicans “want to be united. They just need to know how to do that.”

The speaker is facing a threat of impeachment from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Trump’s top ally who has filed a motion to remove the speaker from office overnight — much as Republicans did their former speaker, Kevin McCarthy, have deposed. , last fall…

Although Greene has not said if or when she will force the issue, and has not found much support for her plan after last year’s unrest over McCarthy’s departure, she attracted at least one key supporter on Tuesday.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., stood up in the meeting and suggested Johnson should step aside, citing the example of John Boehner, an even earlier speaker of the House of Representatives who announced an early resignation in 2015 in rather than risk a vote to impeach him. said the Republicans in the room.

Johnson did not respond, Republicans in the room said, but told lawmakers they had a “binary” choice before them.

The speaker explained that they either try to pass the package as he proposes or risk facing a dismissal request from Democrats that would force a vote on their preferred package — the Senate-approved measure. But that would leave out the additional Republican priorities.

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