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U.S. Speaker Johnson promises more Ukraine aide

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U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson raised eyebrows Sunday by pledging to pass more Ukraine aide when Congress is back in session.

Johnson made the comments during a Sunday evening interview on Fox’s “Sunday Night in America With Trey Gowdy.”

“Look, what we have to do in an era of divided government, historically, as we are, you got to build consensus,” Johnson said, first reported by The Hill. “If we want to move a partisan measure, I got to have every single member, literally…and some things need to be bipartisan, but when it comes to the supplemental, we’ve been working to build that consensus.”

While Johnson suggested some “important innovations” to Ukraine funding, his effort would likely rely heavily on the recent Senate version. He said he will almost certainly need dozens of Democratic votes to get it passed.

One such innovation could be giving Ukraine a loan instead of outright aide for some of its support.

The Senate passed a bill earlier this year that would send $60 billion worth of support to Ukraine and about $14 billion to Israel in its war with Hamas after the terrorist group’s deadly Oct. 7 attacks last year.

So far, that bill has not moved in the House.

Additional funding for Ukraine has become increasingly controversial as the overall tab for Ukraine continues to grow. Critics have also raised concerns that the conflict could escalate tensions with Russia to a dangerous level.

According to the State Department, the U.S. has provided about $44 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in 2022.

Johnson’s comments drew pushback from some Republicans. The party is split over the issue, with many Republicans demanding significant work on closing the U.S. border with Mexico before agreeing to more Ukraine funding and others likely unwilling to support Ukraine funding regardless of border provisions.

“Unfortunately, this is not April fools,” U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Johnson, Schumer & the deep state are writing the Ukraine bill. Then Johnson will suspend rules to pass it.”

So far, Johnson has been able to retain the speakership despite serious divides within his own party.

Johnson was able to pass all 12 appropriations bills this year, not just a stopgap measure, the first time since Rep. Nancy Pelosi, R-Calif., did so as speaker.