© 2024 Allbritton Journalism Institute
Mike Johnson Israel
Speaker Mike Johnson said the House would vote on separate bills for national security aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan. Mark Schiefelbein/AP

Mike Johnson’s New Aid Plan: Four Votes on Four Bills

Two months after the Senate passed its supplemental aid bill, the House is finally going to vote on funds for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.

It took months of pressure, a threat of a discharge petition and a retaliatory strike on Israel by Iran, but House Speaker Mike Johnson finally unveiled a plan for national security aid.

He announced Monday that he would bring aid for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan to the floor through four separate bills later this week instead of holding a vote on the Senate-passed supplemental funding bill. Johnson said votes would likely begin Friday evening so members can review the bills.

“I think the final product will be something that everybody can take confidence in because they got to vote their district and vote their conscience,” Johnson told reporters after a meeting with his conference.

The move comes with clear risks for Johnson. House Republicans have repeatedly failed to pass rules — although Democrats might be willing to help on aid — and moving four bills through with such a tight Republican majority is a big task. Johnson is also operating under the threat of a rebellion after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene put forward a motion to remove him as speaker.

“People are not going to like any of this; they are going to be angry about it, and I think this is another wrong direction for Speaker Johnson,” Greene said of Johnson’s plan. “He’s definitely not going to be speaker of the next Congress if we’re lucky enough to have the majority.”

But for conservative members, the move to divide the package into four was a step in the right direction, even if they won’t support all four underlying bills.

“I would think that all of it ends up passing ultimately, but at least you give people a choice,” said Rep. Eric Burlison. “That’s pretty unusual for D.C. Usually, it’s all lumped into one big turd sandwich.”

On paper, the plan does not include provisions concerning the U.S. southern border — an absence conservatives have declared a deal-breaker for months. But Rep. Matt Gaetz is pushing for a provision to the Ukraine stand-alone bill that would require the Senate to take up the House’s H.R. 2 border bill before any Ukraine bill is sent from the House.

Johnson’s four-pronged approach is not what Democrats wanted either. They have called for Johnson to hold a vote on the supplemental funding package the Senate already passed. And it’s not yet clear whether Democrats in the Senate are willing to accept this new approach — particularly if aid to Israel comes without any conditions.

The fourth bill in Johnson’s plan is meant to send some red meat to his conservative members. It is expected to include provisions not included in the Senate supplemental passed in February, including a ban on TikTok, a bill to sell seized Russian assets, a Lend-Lease act for military aid and loans for humanitarian funding. The bill may also include action to end President Joe Biden’s pause on liquefied natural gas exports.

Republicans long in support of aid to Israel and Ukraine said they supported Johnson’s move to split the bill into four rather than taking up the Senate supplemental as is. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, who pushed Johnson to divide Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan over the weekend, said, “The only way to do this is to break it up.”

Rep. Mike Lawler said Johnson’s procedure would help “build consensus within the conference” compared to a single package.

“We need to get aid. I don’t care procedurally how we do it. I care that it gets done,” Lawler said.

After all four bills are voted on, Johnson’s “rough plan” is to combine the four into a single package for the Senate, Rep. Don Bacon told NOTUS.

That’s a nonstarter for most conservative members, some who said they would only vote for the initial rule if it guaranteed the bills wouldn’t be packaged as one for the Senate.

“I want the bills to be voted on separately, and I don’t want them put back together,” House Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good said.

Johnson, pushing for a combined package after the individual votes, told members that it would slow the Senate down if each bill was brought separately.

“There was consensus in that room that the Senate’s problem is the Senate’s problem,” Rep. Thomas Massie said.

Over in the Senate, Republicans first hearing about the package seemed cautiously optimistic, pointing to Johnson receiving Trump’s approval to move on Ukraine aid and public opinion being in Israel’s favor. Ultimately, most wanted to see if Johnson’s plan would actually work.

“I’ve seen this movie before,” said Sen. Josh Hawley. “Let’s just see what happens.”

Katherine Swartz, Ben T.N. Mause and John T. Seward are NOTUS reporters and Allbritton Journalism Institute fellows.