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US Republican legislator readies obscure legislative tool to force stalled Ukraine aid to floor

Pro-Ukraine US House Republican employs obscure procedural maneuver to pressure a vote on assistance for Ukraine, facing obstruction from GOP leadership and far-right members.
Congress of the United States.
The Congress of the United States. Photo:
US Republican legislator readies obscure legislative tool to force stalled Ukraine aid to floor

Defying US House Speaker, pro-Ukraine Republican Brian Fitzpatrick representing Pennsylvania prepares a rarely-used procedural maneuver known as a discharge petition to force a vote on $60+ billion in assistance to Ukraine, facing resistance from far-right members of his own party, according to Axios.

The aid package has been stalled since last fall due largely to opposition from the far-right Republicans in the US Congress, suspending military assistance that Kyiv badly needs to fight Russia. The Senate passed a $95 billion foreign aid bill, including $60+ billion for Ukraine, last month with bipartisan support, yet Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson made clear he wouldn’t give it a vote on the House floor, stating on 14 February that the House will not feel “rushed” to pass the package.

The discharge petition requires 218 signatures to be brought to the House floor for a vote. While expected to garner widespread Democratic support, Fitzpatrick will need several members of his own party to sign on. He expressed confidence he can secure enough Republican backing, claiming “more than you think” will join.

“We have to get something done,” said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, who is leading the push, as per Axios. “It’s existential, it’s time sensitive. Whether that’s our product or somebody else’s, we’ve just got to get the money out the door to them,” he said.

Fitzpatrick indicated that the petition would be prepared for signatures by early March and expressed optimism about gaining Republican support. When asked about the level of support, he suggested there could be more than expected, stating that many recognize it as the correct course of action. One House Republican, speaking anonymously to Axios, said they would sign if there is no other progress. Fitzpatrick emphasized that the discharge petition is primarily a means to “apply a pressure point to get something done soon.”

The US House of Representatives consists of 435 voting members, along with six non-voting members, requiring 218 votes for a majority. Currently, the Democratic Party holds 213 seats, and there are three vacant seats. To achieve a majority, Democrats would need the support of at least five Republican members. Republicans currently occupy 219 seats in the House.

That’s why, for the petition to proceed, it would require support from a few Republicans, assuming that most House Democrats sign it. The maneuver also necessitates a specific timeline, requiring 30 days while the House is in session before it can be brought to the floor.

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