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Ukraine Debate Sparks GOP Tensions, Posing Challenges for Speaker Johnson

Speaker Mike Johnson faces a complex situation as he tries to prevent a government shutdown without risking his position. The Republican infighting over government funding has turned into a delicate balancing act for him.

Ukraine Spending Debate Threatens Johnson’s Role

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A major point of contention threatening Johnson’s Speakership is the debate over new spending for Ukraine.
Since taking his role in October, Johnson has supported further military assistance for Kyiv.

House Republicans’ Stance on Ukraine Aid

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The idea of sending more funds to Ukraine is losing favor among House Republicans. This shift in opinion marks a significant change since the conflict began nearly two years ago.

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Rep. Greene’s Ultimatum to Johnson

Credit: Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, R-Ga., arrives on Capitol Hill, Oct. 24, 2023, in Washington. AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has sternly warned that she will move to strip Johnson of his Speakership if he allows a vote on a Senate-crafted Ukraine bill. Greene conveyed this message directly to Johnson during a recent meeting.

Greene’s Critique of Ukraine Aid

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Greene criticized the proposed $60 billion in Ukraine aid as fiscally irresponsible and ineffective. She views the aid as supporting a losing war and has threatened to take action against Johnson if he supports it.

Contrast with Former Speaker McCarthy

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Johnson’s situation differs from that of his predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, who was ousted for his dealings with President Biden. McCarthy’s downfall was supported by a coalition of Republicans and Democrats, reflecting the GOP’s slim House majority.

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Johnson’s Government Spending Strategy

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Johnson has shown a willingness to collaborate with the White House on government spending. He supported various funding measures, including a continuing resolution and a bipartisan agreement on spending figures.

Conservative Response to Johnson’s Decisions

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While Johnson’s deals have angered conservative spending hawks, they haven’t yet led to a direct threat to his position.
Rep. Chip Roy has kept the option of a motion-to-vacate open but hasn’t acted on it.

Rep. Good’s View on Johnson’s Leadership

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Rep. Bob Good, chair of the Freedom Caucus, dismissed the idea of toppling Johnson over spending issues. Good, who was instrumental in McCarthy’s ousting, called the notion of doing the same to Johnson “ridiculous.”

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The Real Threat: Ukraine Aid and Border Policy

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The more immediate threat to Johnson’s leadership comes from his stance on new Ukraine aid and border policy.
Greene has criticized these policies as potentially altering America’s political landscape.

Johnson’s Dismissal of Greene’s Threat

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Johnson has downplayed Greene’s threat, understanding her concerns about oversight of Ukraine aid.
He remains confident in his position and approach to the issue.

Johnson’s Conditions for Ukraine Aid

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To appease conservative critics, Johnson demands that any new military assistance for Ukraine include strict border provisions. He has indicated a readiness to reject any Ukraine bill that doesn’t meet House Republicans’ border security standards.

Also Read: Ukrainian Forces Deal Heavy Blow to Russian Troops in Avdiivka Tank Battle

Shift in Republican Foreign Policy Approach

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The Ukraine debate reflects a significant shift in the Republican Party’s approach to foreign affairs. Adopting Trump’s “America First” mantra, the party has moved away from its traditional interventionist stance.

Trump’s Influence on Ukraine-Border Package

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Trump has urged House Republicans to reject any Ukraine-border package until his potential return to the White House.
He believes only then can a “perfect” deal be achieved.

Johnson’s Early Challenges as Speaker

Credit: The Hill

Johnson’s endorsement of new Ukraine aid marks a shift from his previous position. This change raises questions about whether he will stage a vote on a Ukraine package opposed by most of his conference.

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