US Speaker Mike Johnson may pay political price for Ukraine deal

After months of delay and increasingly dire warnings, the US House of Representatives approved $61bn in new aid to Ukraine by a comfortable margin.

The passage is a big win for Ukraine, which has been desperate for new military supplies to stave off a Russian offensive that is gaining ground.

The US Pentagon press secretary told reports on Thursday that US military supplies, including for air defence systems and artillery units, could be moved to Ukraine in a matter of days after final approval.

Saturday’s rare moment of co-operation in Congress is also a cause for celebration for President Joe Biden, who has been calling the Ukraine war a world-defining conflict that the US cannot afford to shrug off.

“Today, members of both parties in the House voted to advance our national security interests and send a clear message about the power of American leadership on the world stage,” he said.

The president could sign the aid into law later this week, as the US Senate is expected to approve the House foreign aid package – which also includes funding for Israel and Taiwan – as early as Tuesday.

Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson also has reason to be encouraged by the result. It was his change of heart on Ukraine support, from a reticence to active support, that proved the decisive factor in getting the foreign aid package approved.

He received a vote of confidence from Donald Trump just a week ago, and the former president – who has spoken out against more support for Ukraine in the past – could have caused untold headaches for Mr Johnson as aid moved through the House. Instead, he largely stayed silent, focused instead on his ongoing trial in New York City.

Mr Johnson may still pay a political price for Saturday’s achievement, however. He relied heavily on Democratic support not just on the final votes but to clear procedural hurdles leading up to those votes.

 

 

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