Senate Running Out of Time to Pass Ukraine Aid

( – Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is under pressure to move a bill through the House that would provide aid for Ukraine to shore up its military efforts as war rages on two years after Russia’s invasion began. While Johnson has suggested that he will table a financial package following the Easter recess, some lawmakers are becoming increasingly impatient with the delay. The Senate Republican Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), believes that time is “running out” to help Ukraine, a sentiment echoed by Californian Democrat Laphonza Butler.

Butler was co-author of the Senate’s Ukraine aid bill that Johnson is yet to put in front of the House and has made it clear that although she wants the bill to pass both chambers as it stands, she accepts that proponents of the bill may have to accept some compromises to fund Ukraine’s war efforts as the embattled nation finds itself running out of ammunition and weapons. Johnson has suggested that he has reservations about the bill’s contents and has floated some possible amendments.

These amendments include providing aid in the form of loans, rather than as a gift, and using seized Russian assets to help fund the bill. An estimated $300 billion of Russian assets have been seized since the outbreak of war, but much of this is in European hands, rather than under the control of the U.S.

Johnson has also suggested including legislation to cancel the current freeze on new permits to export liquified natural gas, a move which may help to make the package more attractive to some Republican colleagues.

Johnson faces a difficult task in raising enough Democrat and Republican support for any bill he puts before the House. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) believes a loan is a “fig leaf” and that Ukraine should be given the aid without such a condition, whereas hardliner Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is simply opposed to sending more money to Ukraine. Taylor Greene went so far as to introduce a resolution to depose Johnson from his role of Speaker before the Easter recess, claiming she did so as a “warning” to him.

Tying the Ukraine funding to aiding Israel or tackling the southern border crisis also presents the danger of putting Democrat lawmakers off voting for it, so Johnson must walk a thin line whatever he chooses to do.

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