Mike Johnson Resists Pressure to Advance Senate Supplemental

House Speaker faces challenges uniting GOP on aid bill.

by Nouman Rasool
Mike Johnson Resists Pressure to Advance Senate Supplemental
© Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Speaker Mike Johnson has steadfastly resisted calls to put a Senate-approved foreign aid package on the House floor, despite bipartisan pressure and recent geopolitical tensions. This development came during his appearance on Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures," where Johnson disclosed plans for a new proposal, albeit without committing to the Senate's $95 billion national security package that benefits Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.

The reluctance from Johnson surfaces amid a critical juncture in international relations, particularly after Iran's strike on Israel in retaliation for an Israeli airstrike in Syria, escalating regional tensions. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, in a recent press conference in New York, emphasized the urgency of passing the aid package to bolster Israel and Ukraine's defenses.

Schumer, along with President Joe Biden and other key congressional leaders, discussed the matter in a crucial phone call that highlighted a consensus on supporting the allied nations.

Johnson's Legislative Hurdles

Johnson, who rose to the speakership in October, had earlier navigated a rocky start with the House’s initial passage of a GOP-led aid package for Israel.

This package, which controversially included cuts to IRS funding, was quickly rebuffed by the Democratic Senate and faced a presidential veto threat. A subsequent standalone bill met a similar fate in the House, showcasing deep divisions within Republican ranks and the challenging path ahead for any aid legislation.

Adding to the complexity, Johnson’s recent discussions with former President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago revealed a potential shift towards making Ukraine aid a loan-based arrangement, aligning with Trump's "loan lease" concept.

This approach could reshape U.S. aid strategy but also requires delicate negotiation to gain broad congressional support. Furthermore, influential GOP figures like Sen. Marco Rubio and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner have voiced strong opinions on balancing aid with national security priorities, including border security—a contentious issue within the ongoing negotiations.

With the House expected to revisit the aid discussions this week, the spotlight remains on Johnson to navigate these multifaceted pressures and align his party's diverse factions.