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Piecemeal supplemental spending plan emerges in House

Speaker's attempt to thread the needle comes amid renewed pressure on Congress after Iran attack

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., is seen in the Capitol before the House voted to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on Friday.
Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., is seen in the Capitol before the House voted to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Mike Johnson laid out a plan Monday to consider three separate bills that would provide aid to Ukraine, Israel and U.S. allies in the Indo-Pacific region plus a fourth measure dealing with a mishmash of both GOP and bipartisan policy priorities in answer to a $95.3 billion Senate-passed supplemental package.

Republicans largely praised the plan to consider the four bills separately, but criticism from the party’s right flank leaves it unclear whether the Louisiana Republican can muster the votes within his party needed to adopt a rule on the floor to provide for consideration of the four bills.

“It really was the will of my colleagues to vote on these measures independently and not have them all sandwiched together as the Senate had done,” Johnson said leaving a House Republican meeting Monday evening. Unlike the Senate measure, the House version would structure aid to Ukraine as a loan, Johnson said.

“The underlying text will have some of our innovations in it with regard to accountability for the funding and for some of these other measures,” Johnson said, citing the loan for Ukraine. “I think you’ll see the text differs in those ways but the overall concept is the same.”

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana said funding levels would “not necessarily” mirror those in the Senate bill.

The Senate package would provide $60.1 billion to Ukraine, $14.1 billion to Israel and $4.8 billion to Taiwan and other allies in the Pacific. The Senate package also included $9.1 billion in humanitarian aid to Gaza and Ukraine, but it’s unclear whether that would feature in any of the House bills.

TikTok ban, Russian asset seizure, LNG freeze

The fourth piece of legislation, which is still coming together, would combine earlier bills aimed at national security threats, including possibly a House-passed measure to force the sale of TikTok and another aimed at seizing Russian assets to fund the war in Ukraine, according to members leaving the conference meeting Monday evening.

They added that a House-passed bill that would block the White House from freezing liquefied natural gas export applications was also brought up for possible inclusion in the fourth measure, but no final decision had been made. Johnson said that measure would also include language to convert some of the Ukraine aid package into a loan, something former President Donald Trump has argued for.

Johnson said he hoped to release legislative text on the four measures early Tuesday with votes tentatively planned for Friday. The process would allow for floor amendments, he said.

The speaker said he would prefer to send each of the bills over to the Senate separately, but would defer to the conference if members preferred a rule that would allow them to pass each bill individually but combine them for the Senate to consider. Combining the bills into one package before transmitting them to the Senate could help pick up votes from Democrats, who’ve insisted that Ukraine funding travel alongside aid to Israel.

The plan abandons Johnson’s previous position that the Senate would have to take up a House-passed border measure before the chamber would consider sending aid abroad, angering some members of the party’s right flank.

MTG’s MTV

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., railed against Johnson and the plan leaving the conference meeting, but said she was still undecided on whether to force consideration of her motion to vacate the speaker’s chair and boot Johnson out of his job.

“It’s the wrong direction to go. Our border is the number one policy issue that voters care about all across the country,” Greene said.

Johnson shrugged off Greene’s threats.

“I don’t spend my time worrying about motions to vacate,” he said. “We’re having to govern here and we’re going to do our job. I’m not sure how that shakes out.”

Scalise said House leadership is still committed to pursuing border security.

“Obviously we want to get border security done as well,” he said. “We’re going to continue pushing on that front. And how best to do it, we’re going to continue working on it.”

Some members of the party’s right flank, which has opposed Ukraine aid, approved the speaker’s decision to consider each item separately, though not all would commit to supporting the rule providing for the bills’ consideration on the floor.

“We don’t know what it really will include and whatever it won’t include. The main thing is he’s going to do it in four separate bills, and I think that’s a good thing,” said Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz. He said he’d likely support the rule, even if he opposed some of the underlying bills.

“Situation normal. You can fill out the rest of the acronym,” Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said of the meeting. He declined to say whether he would support the rule on the floor or in the Rules Committee.

Rep. Eli Crane, R-Ariz., wouldn’t say whether he would support the rule on the floor, but approved of splitting up the bills.

Typically, the majority party is responsible for adopting rules. On rare occasions the minority party has swept in to support a rule poised to be rejected on the floor, as happened last June when some House Democrats voted to adopt a rule providing for consideration of the law to raise the debt limit.

The speaker’s plan received a warmer reception from moderates who have pushed for consideration of Ukraine aid.

“Look, we all have the opportunity to vote our districts. One or two people should not get the opportunity to shut down all debate on the floor. That’s not what Congress is about,” said Rep. Zach Nunn, R-Iowa. “I’m proud that we are leading on this aspect.”

Rep. Marc Molinaro, R-N.Y., also backed the plan.

“We’re going to get four votes and four measures,” he said. “It’s the right way in which the House should function. And quite frankly, I think America should see this: vote your conscience, vote your constituency. And from my perspective, show the world that America means business.”

Nunn and Molinaro are each in seats that Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates “Tilt Republican,” or not quite a Toss-up but still fairly vulnerable in November.

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