Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Will Ukraine Actually Be a Part of Mike Johnson’s Aid Package?

The White House has rejected an Israel standalone bill. Will the Speaker send one out anyway?

New House Speaker Mike Johnson Joins Senate Republicans For Their Policy Luncheon

The House, under the leadership of Speaker Mike Johnson, could vote in the coming days on an aid package to Israel. But will Ukraine aid be attached?

If the White House has its way, the answer is yes. “We are opposed to a stand-alone bill that would just work on Israel,” White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby told members of the media Monday. Johnson, however, reportedly told House Republicans at a conference meeting Monday evening that Ukraine and Israel aid should be separated. Is Biden willing to use the veto to get his way, and if he is, will that force Johnson to reconsider?


“House Republicans and the Republican Party understand the necessity of standing with Israel,” Johnson told Fox News on Sunday. Previously, the House had advanced two aid bills for Israel—in fact, Johnson’s first legislative act as Speaker was passing a stand-alone aid bill for Israel.

“We’re going to try again this week, and the details of that package are being put together. Right now, we’re looking at the options and all these supplemental issues,” the speaker continued, signaling an openness to keeping aid to Ukraine and Israel bundled.

Over the weekend, Iran launched a strike with more than 300 missiles and drones in response to an Israeli strike on an Iranian consulate in Damascus that killed 13, including senior military officials. Very few of the Iranian missiles and drones ended up hitting their targets; Israel, with assistance from the U.S., Britain, and France, shot down most. The Jordanians, critics of Israel’s campaign in Gaza, also shot down drones and missiles that entered its airspace. Iran gave ample prior warning of its retaliatory attack and used slow-moving drones, suggesting its actions were meant to be non-escalatory in nature. Despite the apparent scale, Iran expected most of its projectiles would be shot down.

After the Senate failed to strike a deal that would provide supplemental aid to Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific in exchange for border security, the Senate passed a $95 billion aid package without border security provisions in February. Johnson has refused to take up the legislation, but has repeatedly stated he wants to create an aid package for Ukraine and Israel that won’t cost him the speaker’s gavel.

On Sunday, in the wake of the Iranian attack, Johnson spoke with President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. The group urged Johnson to bring the $95 billion supplemental, nearly two-thirds of which is funding for Ukraine, to the floor.


But Johnson would most likely have to bring the $95 billion package to the floor under suspension of the rules, and it’s unclear whether two-thirds of the House would be willing to sign on. While the weekend’s attack has added urgency, Johnson faces a House GOP growing increasingly skeptical about America’s involvement in Ukraine and a House Democratic conference that increasingly questions U.S. support for Israel. Threading the needle, and doing so while keeping his job, is going to be difficult for Johnson.

For its part, the Senate has refused to consider House-passed aid packages too. The first Israel aid bill Johnson passed out of the House offset the costs via spending cuts, most of which from Biden’s IRS expansion.

In the past few weeks, Johnson has been flirting with various ways to offset future expenditures on the war in Ukraine for his future aid package, such as providing Ukraine aid in the form of a loan or using the REPO Act to seize Russian assets.

“I think these are ideas that I think can get consensus, and that’s what we’ve been working through,” Johnson said in the wake of a Friday meeting with former President Donald Trump, who is more comfortable with the idea of Ukraine aid as a loan. “We’ll send our package. We’ll put something together and send it to the Senate and get these obligations completed.”

While Johnson’s decision to separate Israel and Ukraine aid is aimed primarily at shoring up support from the more conservative wing of the conference, some House Republicans, such as House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul, believe the conflicts are intertwined. “What happened in Israel last night happens in Ukraine every night,” McCaul said on CBS’s “Face The Nation.”

What happens with the impending aid package remains to be seen. That doesn’t mean Johnson’s House will be idle, however. Johnson is preparing a legislative barrage against Iran in the coming week. The speaker is putting 17 bills about Iran and Israel on the floor—11 of which will proceed under suspension of the rules.