The new conservative House Speaker Mike Johnson is expected to challenge a joint effort for funding for the wars in Israel and Ukraine, The Hill reported. The Louisiana Republican said it's time to "bifurcate" the aid in the spending packages.
"We can’t allow Vladimir Putin to prevail in Ukraine because I don’t believe it would stop there, and it would probably encourage and empower China to perhaps make a move on Taiwan. We have these concerns," Johnson said in an interview Thursday.
However, Johnson is more concerned that "the endgame in Ukraine" has never been fleshed out by the White House while money continues to flow there. These concerns were the thrust behind a Senate bill introduced by Republicans hours earlier that separated the $105 billion in funding for Israel from other concerns like Taiwan and Ukraine.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has been pushing to allot more money for Ukraine than Israel with the excuse that it was more necessary for the former than the latter. "The difference here is that Israel has a very advanced military, a very Western-style military already," Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, press secretary for the Pentagon, told the media Thursday.
"So the needs writ large are different between what Israel is asking for and what Ukraine is asking for,” he added. Biden was leaning on Congress for $61 billion for Ukraine and only $14 billion for Israel.
Even within the Republican Party, disagreement exists about how and how much to fund each nation during its wartime effort. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urged the GOP to advance legislation that lumped them together, but conservatives like Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) balked at such a suggestion.
Vance also worried that Johnson could weaken on his prior position. "To his great credit, the new Speaker has been a stalwart on the Ukraine issue — voting consistently against an endless conflict with no plan from the Biden administration," Vance said on X, formerly Twitter, Friday.
"It’s concerning to see him change his tune so quickly after being elevated to this role," Vance added. Of course, leaders in Ukraine are pushing for funding to remain tied together as it's clearly advantageous if they want the money spigot to remain on at full blast.
"As Ukrainians, we are clear the endgame for us is gaining the territories back and winning the war," Ukrainian parliament member Oleksandra Ustinova, who was in Washington to lobby for more funding, said Thursday. "But so far, with the support that has been coming from the United States, it was enough to sustain the war but not to win."
"[So] we really hope that [Johnson] brings the supplemental to the floor," she added. Johnson hasn't ruled out aid but rather suggests separating the packages and making sure it's paid for.
"Here’s the important thing that distinguishes House Republicans from the other team: we’re going to find pay-fors in the budget, we’re not just printing money to send it overseas, we’re going to find the cuts elsewhere to do that," Johnson promised. Other lawmakers like Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) are still looking for a joint funding package, however.
"If you start looking at how we’re going to get the votes together to support Ukraine and support Israel, you don’t do those individual packages, or at least I wouldn’t," Tillis argued Tuesday. He also said there would be "more options" if bundled together to entice Democrats to sign on.
The wars in Ukraine and Israel are different in scope and national interest for the U.S. Even if the merits of the war in Ukraine are legitimate, Americans are becoming tired of Biden's scheme to continue sending billions of taxpayer dollars overseas for a war without a discernible end.
Meanwhile, Israel has been attacked by Hamas, which seeks to wipe them out of existence. Johnson is right to fight to separate the two to force lawmakers to state their cases for supporting and funding each war effort individually.