House Democrats push speaker to act on Ukraine aid bill

 March 15, 2024

The current speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, is being urged by a group of Democrats—including former speaker Nancy Pelosi and veterans of the armed forces—to "lead, follow or get out of the way" in providing additional military aid to Ukraine in its conflict with Russian invaders.

“In the military, we have a great expression,” Mikie Sherrill, a House Democrat from New Jersey and a former Navy helicopter pilot, told reporters on Capitol Hill, according to The Guardian.

“‘Lead, follow or get out of the way.’ That is exactly what our speaker has to do.”

Senate Funding Bill

Republicans and Democrats in the Senate approved a $95 billion foreign aid package for Israel, Taiwan, and Ukraine last month.

Wednesday's Democratic speakers were met with vocal opposition from Code Pink: Women for Peace protesters who opposed funding for Israel's conflict against Hamas.

In contrast, House Republicans have been more obstinate than Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin was able to be in the Capitol regarding Ukraine policy.

Advice from Trump

Johnson, who is reportedly operating with the advice of former President Donald Trump, has not demonstrated any intention of introducing a vote on the Senate package.

Viktor Orbán, the prime minister of Hungary, recently emerged from a meeting with Trump to declare that he will not donate "a penny" to Ukraine if Trump is re-elected.

Trump has stated that he will incite Russia to launch attacks against U.S. allies that he believes are not compensated adequately for their NATO membership.

House Democratic members have submitted discharge petitions, which serve as a means to circumvent the speaker. Despite substantial Republican backing for Ukraine aid, the likelihood of success for such endeavors remains low. One petition was approximately 50 votes short of triumph on Wednesday.

Johnson Pushback

Johnson, Sherrill said, “has to show some leadership and put this bill on the floor so we can get an up-or-down vote on it. We know we have about 300 votes in favor".

“He can follow the Democrats: we have put our discharge petition on the board, get his members to sign this petition and again, support Ukraine.

"Or he could just get out of the way because we know that the American people are behind the Ukrainians.

“We know that each and every day that goes by is another day that Ukrainians are dying. We have members of the Ukrainian armed forces in my district, people who have lost legs, who have lost their vision, because they were standing in the breach … We’re fighting hard for this, Mr Speaker. Lead, follow or get out of the way.”

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