Dems save Johnson’s $95B foreign aid plan from GOP rebel blockade

Speaker Mike Johnson’s $95 billion foreign aid proposal survived a key test vote Friday morning, setting House lawmakers up to consider its four individual components sometime Saturday.

In a stunning break from modern historical precedent, more Democrats voted for the GOP proposal than Johnson’s fellow Republicans.

Democrats bucked party norms to support the plan through a procedural hurdle known as a ‘rule vote’ after conservative foreign aid skeptics defected from Republicans to try to block the plan. It passed 316-94, with 165 Democrats and 151 Republicans in favor.

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee that advanced the proposal on Thursday night, said before the Friday vote, ‘Democrats are providing the votes necessary to advance this legislation to the floor, because at the end of the day, so much more is at stake here than petty [brinkmanship].’

The rule vote now sets up debate on the four individual bills followed by amendment votes and four votes on passage sometime Saturday. It’s highly unusual for Democrats, or any opposition party, to cross the aisle on a rule vote, but it underscores the urgency that lawmakers on both sides feel about sending aid to foreign allies.

The 55 Republican dissidents on this latest rule vote illustrate the fractured House Republican Conference that Johnson is trying to manage, with the House Freedom Caucus and their allies having wielded outsized influence for much of this term. 

Three of the four bills fund Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific. A fourth bill includes national security priorities like the House’s recently passed crackdown on TikTok’s ownership, as well as the REPO Act, which would liquidate seized Russian assets and give that funding to Ukraine.

Johnson’s push for foreign aid has infuriated members on the right of his House GOP conference, putting added pressure on the Louisiana Republican as he also navigates a historically slim majority.

Earlier this week, Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., threatened to oust Johnson if he did not step aside after a House vote on his foreign aid plan. Massie is now signed onto Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s, R-Ga., motion to vacate resolution, which, if deemed ‘privileged’ by Greene, would force the House to begin voting on Johnson’s potential ouster within two legislative days.

Massie said during debate ahead of the final vote, ‘I’m concerned that the speaker’s cut a deal with the Democrats to fund foreign wars rather than to secure our border.’

Greene’s amendment to strip all Ukraine funding from the foreign aid bill is slated to get a vote on Saturday ahead of the vote on final passage.

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