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US House speaker scolded for evading urgent Ukraine aid action

International allies criticize US House speaker Mike Johnson for dodging swift legislative decision on depleted Ukraine’s vital defense assistance
Congress of the United States.
The Congress of the United States. Photo: president.gov.ua
US House speaker scolded for evading urgent Ukraine aid action

US House Speaker Mike Johnson faces rising global criticism for dodging swift legislative action on depleted Ukraine’s urgent need for additional military assistance to resist Russian aggression, CNN reports. Despite bipartisan Senate passage last week of a $60 billion aid package as Ukraine’s munitions and defenses dwindle dangerously, the Republican House speaker has resisted calls to bring the urgent bill up for a quick vote before Congress’s recess.

The US’ aid to Ukraine has been stalled in Congress for months, benefiting Russia on the battleground as Ukraine’s stocks of artillery munitions and missiles deplete without the much-needed supplies from the US.

CNN says that privately citing a wish to avoid rushing, Johnson told fellow Republicans the Senate bill requires amendments while resisting calls for a rapid vote needing Democratic support. Such a move risks conservative rebellion from Johnson’s right flank, with some members threatening his position should he proceed. Complicating the speaker’s decision is intervention from former President Donald Trump demanding Republicans oppose further Ukraine funding altogether.

With Congress adjourned until next week, the stakes of the debate and Johnson’s role heightened, with global leaders at the Munich Security Conference, Alexei Navalny’s death, and Ukraine’s setback to Russian forces adding urgency for Congress to act as Ukraine’s military faces resource shortages.

In Munich, German Defense Minister Pistorius urged US legislators to approve the aid package for Ukraine, as billions in deals between German and American defense contractors now hang in the balance, while US lawmakers continue obstructing crucial Ukraine military aid.

According to CNN, Senator Mark Warner, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, noted “lots of conversations” in Munich about the US’s commitment to Ukraine. Senator Ben Cardin, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, emphasized that Navalny’s death only underscored the sense of urgency.

Republican Representative Brian Fitzpatrick criticized House GOP leaders for dismissing the Senate’s foreign aid package and bipartisan border deal without an alternative plan.

As international frustration swells over Republican domestic political turbulence paralyzing crucial foreign policy decisions, pressure from world allies continues intensifying on the embattled Speaker Johnson to urgently facilitate an aid vote reinforcing combat-fatigued Ukraine’s wavering frontline.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has criticized Johnson for inaction:

They’re making a big mistake,” Biden told reporters on 19 February. “The way they’re walking away from the state of Russia, the way they’re walking away from NATO… I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is also pressuring Johnson, demanding in a new statement on Sunday that House Republicans pass a foreign aid bill, stating that Putin “is watching.”

The saga of Ukraine aid continues in the US Congress for months:

  • In October, the White House proposed a roughly $100 billion package for Ukraine, Israel, Indo-Pacific allies, and the border, but Republicans demanded pairing Kyiv’s aid with border security policy.
  • Bipartisan Senate talks on border security led to a deal backed by the National Border Patrol Council, but it was blocked by Republicans, citing insufficient southern border solutions.
  • The Senate passed the foreign aid part of the package without the border security agreement in a 70-29 vote, criticized by House Speaker Johnson, a Republican, for lacking border security policy.
  • House centrists are now attempting to merge border security with foreign aid in their proposal.

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