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“What is happening in the House of Representatives is irresponsible”


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Calls for help from Ukraine are becoming more and more urgent: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj recently said that unless supplies of dwindling munitions are delivered soon, the Ukrainian military will have to withdraw. But the U.S. Congress continues to suffer from a siege largely orchestrated by former President Donald Trump.

Representatives and senators resumed their work after the Easter recess this week. It is questionable whether the additional financial aid requested by US President Joe Biden months ago will finally flow to the country harassed by Russia.

The US Senate already passed it in mid-February, but the situation in the House of Representatives is complicated — especially for House Republican Speaker Mike Johnson.

He has refused for weeks to even vote on the $95 billion package, which includes $60 billion in aid to Ukraine in addition to money for Israel and Taiwan. Then, in early April, he promised to put the package on the desks of MPs after Easter, making good on his promise not to abandon Ukraine.

However, this could trigger a referendum on his removal as Speaker less than six months later. Right-wing lawmaker Marjorie Taylor Greene, a close Trump ally, has already threatened to do just that.

Johnson's problem is that the Republicans' already slim majority has shrunk to two votes ahead of the Democrats, further strengthening the dissidents' power.

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Only a handful of Republican rebels could join all the Democrats and end Johnson's term. That's what happened to Johnson's predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, in the fall of 2023.

“I understand Johnson's dilemma,” said Steven Pifer, a senior fellow in the Center for America and Europe at the Brookings Institution. On the one hand, the speaker said he wanted to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin and help Ukraine. “On the other hand, he knows that there is a minority in the Republican Party that is against it and can challenge him for the Speakership later.”

The decision to postpone this issue for a long time is very expensive for Ukraine.

Steven PiferBrookings Institution

However, Johnson has had a dilemma for five months now, says Pfeiffer, who was the US ambassador to Ukraine from 1998 to 2022. “I slowly began to doubt his sincerity. The decision to postpone the issue for so long is costing Ukraine dearly.

Pfeiffer, who was in Kiev three weeks ago, reports widespread discontent among Ukrainians. “They are frustrated that nothing is moving in the House of Representatives. At the same time, Russian airstrikes are very successful – because Ukraine needs to save on defensive missiles, since there is no supply from the United States.

Richard Haas, the longtime chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, added: “The biggest uncertainty in terms of the further course of the war is US military support for Ukraine. What is happening in the House of Representatives is irresponsible.”

Daniel Pletka, a foreign policy expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in Washington, holds the US government responsible. Bledka says the key question on Ukraine aid is whether he can get White House Democrats to vote for Johnson's package.

So far, the Biden administration seems to believe it would be wise to leave the task of gathering votes for the Ukraine package to Republicans. “This is not leadership, it is petty politics. So we wait to see if Joe Biden is the commander in chief or the wobbly leader of the Democratic Party.

Meanwhile, the president increasingly faces the problem of a growing number of Democrats skeptical of unconditional military aid to Israel. Senate ties aid to Ukraine and Israel

Some Democrats now want to wait until May 8. By that day, the State Department must submit a report to Congress on Israel's compliance with international humanitarian law. If the government finds that Israel is not complying with international law, it can theoretically freeze all arms supplies to the country.

You can't do better at the negotiating table than you can on the battlefield.

Richard Haas, Ex-Parent Colin Powell.

In theory, aid could be voted on separately – and Johnson has already made this clear. However, support for Israel is more popular among its parliamentarians than support for Ukraine. The Senate-passed package may be Johnson's only chance to keep his word on Ukraine aid.

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When asked how the war will proceed, Haas says it depends on whether there will be diplomatic efforts and, if so, who will be better off. “If we resume military aid to Ukraine, Ukraine will be a little better off. If we don't do this, Ukraine will be vulnerable and lose on the battlefield. You can't do better on the negotiating table than you can on the battlefield. So if things go in Russia's favor on the battlefield, things will go in Russia's favor on the negotiating table.

For Biden, the point is clear: “The House leader is ending the war in Ukraine by allowing the vote.” – The war in Ukraine ends by allowing the Speaker of the House of Representatives to vote. The President said this on Wednesday. And he added: “The majority of Democrats and Republicans support Ukraine. A vote must now be held.

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