Lawmakers are trying to move around Johnson


Pressure is mounting for Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.)
to address aiding foreign allies as House Democrats and Republicans tee up opposing measures that would supersede House GOP leadership and trigger votes on bills funding Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and the U.S. border.
Cut through the 2024 election noise.
Get The Campaign Moment newsletter.
ArrowRight Democrats and a separate bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday began gathering signatures for competing discharge petitions, a mechanism that moves legislation out of committees and forces a House floor vote without support from leadership if it has the backing of 218 lawmakers.
The Democratic measure, led by Rep. Joe McGovern (D-Mass.)
had amassed nearly 180 signatures from the caucus as of Wednesday afternoon and would advance a national security package the Senate overwhelming approved over a month ago that allots $95.3 billion to assist foreign democracies.
Democratic leaders believe that the large number of signatures compiled in less than 24 hours shows that Democrats would provide significant votes for Ukraine funding if Johnson were to put it on the floor.
AdvertisementThe launch of McGovern’s effort motivated a bipartisan group of House members — Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Don Bacon (R-Neb.
), Jared Golden (D-Maine) and Ed Case (D-Hawaii) — to formally introduce their own petition Tuesday.
The bipartisan petition extends funding for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan for one year.
But unlike the Democratic petition, it also extends Trump-era border security measures used to mitigate the flow of migrants at the U.S. southern border, which are critical to earning House Republicans’ support.
The standoff has put Johnson in a bind over how to piece together a plan that a majority of the House can support but that also doesn’t lead to a revolt by hard-liners closely watching his leadership.
“There’s no trading our border security for another country’s border security or foreign wars.
That’s just a nonstarter with the American people,” said Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).
House GOP leaders have had to suspend rules requiring a simple-majority threshold to pass bills, instead requiring support from Democrats to reach a two-thirds majority.
Unlike several other government funding bills, the national security supplemental is less likely to receive united Democratic backing.
Demands to help Israel in its war against Hamas have roiled relationships within the caucus, and many Democrats want to guarantee the inclusion of sufficient humanitarian relief for Palestinians in Gaza.
Those divisions also threaten the Democratic-led discharge petition.
Multiple GOP lawmakers and aides — who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing private conversations — said that Johnson has not made a decision on how to tackle supplemental funding and that multiple options remain on the table.
Johnson and his leadership team have publicly promised to address the supplemental funding, but not until Congress gets past another government funding deadline March 22.
House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) said in an interview that one option could be to split up the Senate-passed bill and hold individual votes on each significant portion, a process far-right lawmakers have often demanded.
But that would mean “every single dollar in that bill will have to be scrutinized before it can move forward,” he said.
Emmer stressed that he personally supports aid for Ukraine but that the decision on how to move forward is Johnson’s.
AdvertisementMembers of the House Freedom Caucus are viewing how Johnson deals with supplemental funding as an indication of whether he is willing to fight for key ideological priorities of the MAGA base.
Johnson could use several mechanisms to kill either discharge petition if one ends up getting 218 signatures and before a final vote is held.
“The speaker said for a long time after becoming speaker that the border was the hill we would die on.
And yet, I don’t see us fighting for the border,” said Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good (R-Va.).
But Democrats, and several Republicans eager to aid Ukraine, said the myriad urgent situations abroad negate the need for deliberative debate within a conference that cannot reach consensus.
Critics say that fractiousness contributes to Johnson’s delay in making a decision.
AdvertisementOddly helping the case of both groups of petitioners is the reluctance of far-right lawmakers to say whether Johnson would be ousted from the speakership if a discharge petition were successful.
Good said he “never expected a speaker to control other members,” while Greene was skeptical the MAGA base would go after Johnson if he couldn’t control a discharge petition.
“Those are the rules of the House,” she said.
(A bipartisan Senate border security proposal was negotiated to be included in the national security package but was almost immediately scrapped after Trump and congressional Republicans squashed the deal that House

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La) is under increasing pressure. ] to discuss supporting overseas allies while House Republicans and Democrats prepare countermovements that would override House GOP leadership and bring up votes on legislation supporting Taiwan, Israel, Ukraine, and the U.S. s. boundary. Cut through the din of the 2024 election. Subscribe to The Campaign Moment newsletter. On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers and ArrowRight Democrats started collecting signatures for opposing discharge petitions. If a petition receives the support of 218 lawmakers, it can force a House floor vote without the support of leadership.

The Democratic proposal, sponsored by Rep. Joe McGovern (Democratic Party of Massachusetts). gathered nearly 180 signatures from the caucus as of Wednesday afternoon, and would further a national security package that the Senate overwhelmingly approved more than a month ago and allocates $95.3 billion to support democracies abroad. Democratic leaders feel that if Johnson were to bring the Ukraine funding bill to the floor, Democrats would be willing to cast a sizable majority of the signatures that were gathered in less than twenty-four hours.


A group of House members from both parties, led by Representatives, were inspired by McGovern’s initiative. Republican Senator Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa. Additionally, Don Bacon (R-Neb. ), Ed Case (D-Hawaii) and Jared Golden (D-Maine) will formally present their own petition on Tuesday. A year’s worth of funding is extended for Taiwan, Israel, and Ukraine by the bipartisan petition. However, in contrast to the Democratic petition, it also keeps in place border security measures implemented under Trump that were meant to reduce the number of migrants arriving at the U.S. S. southern border, both of which are vital to winning over House Republicans. Even though as of Wednesday afternoon, less than 15 lawmakers had endorsed the bipartisan proposal, the group was still in the process of negotiating with colleagues and party leaders to polish the legislative text into something that would be acceptable to the majority of both parties.

The conflict between the competing initiatives stems from a desire among Republican majority defense hawks to publicly endorse U.S. S. allies abroad, while the party’s growing isolationist wing is promoting former president Donald Trump’s “America First” philosophy, which advocates abandoning long-standing international alliances and treaties like NATO in favor of concentrating on the U.S. S. boundary. Johnson is stuck trying to come up with a plan that both the majority of the House can support and won’t spark a revolt from the hardliners who are closely monitoring his leadership because of the impasse.

“Our border security is not exchanged for the border security of another nation or for involvement in overseas conflicts. “With the American people, that’s just not feasible,” stated Rep. Greene, Marjorie Taylor (R-GA). ). I have conveyed to the speaker and his staff that doing so will make him extremely unpopular. “.


House Republicans who agree that funding Ukraine is urgently needed have been unable to come to an agreement within their ranks for months on national security legislation that can also pass a Senate led by Democrats. Republicans in the House now have to rely on Democratic support to pass legislation with a two-thirds majority, instead of the previous requirement of a simple majority.

There is a lower likelihood of united Democratic support for the national security supplemental than for a number of other government funding bills. In the caucus, demands to support Israel in its conflict with Hamas have strained relations, and a large number of Democrats want to ensure that adequate humanitarian aid is provided to the Palestinians in Gaza. Furthermore endangered by these divisions is the discharge petition led by Democrats.

A number of Republican lawmakers and aides stated that Johnson has not decided how to handle supplemental funding and that there are still a number of options available. They, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing private conversations. Johnson and his administration’s leadership group have made it known that they will deal with the additional funding, but only after Congress has passed a further government funding deadline on March 22.

Tom Emmer, the Republican whip in the House (Minn. stated in an interview that one possibility might be to divide the Senate-passed bill into its component parts and hold separate votes on each important part, a procedure that far-right lawmakers have frequently called for. Yet, he added, “that bill will have to be examined carefully before it can proceed, with every dollar being examined.”. Emmer emphasized that although he personally favors aid for Ukraine, Johnson ultimately decides how to proceed.


The way that Johnson handles supplemental funding is being seen by members of the House Freedom Caucus as a sign of his willingness to defend the core ideological beliefs of the MAGA base. If either discharge petition receives 218 signatures and is approved before a final vote, Johnson may use a number of strategies to thwart it.

After taking office, the speaker declared for a considerable amount of time that “the border was the hill we would die on.”. However, I don’t see us going to war for the border,” Bob Good, the chairman of the Freedom Caucus (R-Va.), said. ).

Democrats and a few Republicans, who are eager to support Ukraine, countered that the numerous urgent situations around the world do not warrant thoughtful discussion at a conference that is unable to come to a consensus. It is argued by critics that Johnson’s indecisiveness is a contributing factor in his delay.


Strangely, far-right lawmakers’ unwillingness to state whether Johnson would lose his speakership in the event of a successful discharge petition is helping the cause of both petition groups. Good expressed his surprise that a speaker could dominate other members, but Greene doubted that Johnson would face consequences from the MAGA base if he was unable to manage a discharge petition.

She declared, “Those are the House’s rules.”.

Fitzpatrick stated that drafting legislation that appeals to a simple majority of 218 bipartisan lawmakers takes time and perseverance, but “not too much patience because Ukraine has weeks, not months, to maintain its fight against Russia.” Fitzpatrick and Bacon approached Golden and Case in an attempt to find a bipartisan solution. “.

The bipartisan approach’s proponents reflect a reality that exists within the House Republican Conference: the Senate bill is, in Bacon’s words, “DOA”—dead on arrival—and, as a result, the Democratic petition is also dead on arrival, since it does not include funding for border security. (An agreement that House Republicans had first sought was thwarted by Trump and congressional Republicans, leading to the nearly instant elimination of a bipartisan Senate border security plan that had been negotiated to be part of the national security package).

Promoting something.

Though they are waiting to see if Johnson ultimately offers a way forward, many national security and defense hawks are eager to sign the bipartisan petition. Bacon said he questioned the speaker on Friday during their meeting with Johnson and Fitzpatrick about whether or not they should end their collaboration if it interfered with his plan of action. Bacon said, “I don’t think he encouraged me, either,” even though Johnson didn’t explicitly say no to it. “.

Nevertheless, Johnson has been openly urging Republicans not to sign the petition, stating that he is “very much opposed.”. “.

Donald Tusk, the prime minister of Poland, chastised Johnson on Tuesday for his lack of clarity regarding his next course of action, telling the speaker in a meeting that his indecision has implications for the US, Ukraine, and all Western nations.

Promoting something.

“Mr. Johnson needs to be conscious, dot. that the destiny of millions of people rests on his personal choice,” Tusk said to Polish reporters.

In line with those requests, House Democratic leaders have been pressuring Johnson to bring the Senate-approved package up for a vote on the House floor. Hakeem Jeffries, the minority leader in the house (D-N. You Y. stepped up the pressure on Tuesday by requesting that his caucus support McGovern’s endeavor before departing Washington on Wednesday, according to individuals who were present during the conversation. Furthermore highlighted by Jeffries was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). ) is in favor of Johnson moving the Senate bill alone.

House Democrats would only need five Republican signatures to start a floor vote if they can get every member of the conference to sign McGovern’s petition. However, a wide range of House Republicans expressed their reluctance to back a Democratic-led initiative. Democratic leaders are aware of this, but according to two people familiar with the strategy, they are focusing on retiring Republicans and lawmakers who withstood far-right primary opponents in an effort to convince them to sign on.


Since a growing number of liberals are uncomfortable sending billions of dollars in lethal aid to Israel, it is unlikely that all Democrats would sign McGovern’s petition. Additionally, the Israeli government is defying calls from the Biden administration to exercise restraint in the five-month-old Gaza war, which has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians. As of Wednesday morning, approximately forty Democrats had not signed the petition. Rep. Delegate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N. You Y. ), a liberal member of the “Squad,” stated she was not going to sign the petition due to the $14 billion for Israel and the fact that it prevents funding for the U.S. Not N. relief organization that is mostly responsible for distributing aid inside Gaza. Israel has charged the organization with links to Hamas and its Oct. Seven terrorist incidents.

Still under negotiation, a more agreeable version of the attached legislation could be made possible by the details of the Democratic discharge petition. In addition to humanitarian aid for Gaza to placate Democrats and increased funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to help secure more Republican votes, the revised proposal might still include funding for Taiwan, Israel, Ukraine, and border security measures for a year.

Remain in Mexico and Title 42 policies, which gave Department of Homeland Security agents the authority to decide whether to make the majority of asylum seekers wait in Mexico for U.S. authorities, are other provisions that certain Democrats find concerning. S. court proceedings and, in the event that the border is overrun, to swiftly deport undocumented immigrants from the country. To placate the more conservative wing of Republicans, who want supplies sent to other nations returned after the war and hold them responsible for repaying any debt incurred, negotiators are also trying to include a lend-lease clause.


Numerous people familiar with the effort claim that last week, a number of committee chairs approached lawmakers about additional changes to take into consideration. One such provision would grant the president the authority to transfer assets that Russia has seized to Ukraine for reconstruction purposes. Discussions are still ongoing with lawmakers serving on the House Appropriations, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs committees, according to the individuals involved. They cited their collaboration as evidence that the bipartisan endeavor is still ongoing.

However, the Senate united on Tuesday to reject the Fitzpatrick-Golden effort and any other House-created legislation pertaining to Ukraine aid. The leaders of the Senate agreed that the House ought to proceed with the bill that was approved by the Senate with 70 votes last month.

“If the House sends back different legislation, it could take weeks to pass the Senate bill,” McConnell told reporters. “The only way to get relief to the Ukrainians and the Israelis quickly is for the House to figure out how to pass the Senate bill.”. “All of this takes up more time than we have.”. “.

Leave a Reply

scroll to top