The House of Representatives is stuck.
The supplemental foreign-aid bill that passed the Senate with 70 votes also has majority support in the House, but Speaker Mike Johnson doesn’t dare bring it up for fear of losing his job.
So the $95 billion bill, with important funding for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan as well as the U.S. defense-industrial base, is languishing in a box canyon. That aid is especially urgent for Ukraine, which cannot force Russia to make a settlement on terms favorable to the West — and may not even be able to survive — without it.
One way to get it on the floor is a so-called discharge petition. This is a rarely successful maneuver to free a bottled-up bill on the floor through 218 members signing on to “discharge” it. This works about once a decade. It usually requires a unified minority party and a handful of highly motivated members of the majority willing to buck their leadership.
The problem here is that the most progressive members of the Democratic caucus — opposed to unconditional Israel funding — might not be willing to sign on, which would push the number of Republicans needed to sign on implausibly high.
If the Senate bill were to make it on the floor and pass, meanwhile, it would mean Republicans would get nothing on the border.While President Biden needs no new statutory authority to enforce the immigration laws much more vigorously than he has done, lasting progress on the border requires some congressional action.
If Johnson has a plan to deal with the situation, he hasn’t shared it with anyone. Simply bringing the bill up for a vote would cause a revolt among the GOP’s fiercest opponents of Ukraine aid. They would vote against the rule, the procedural measure setting the conditions for debate on the bill.
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Author: Mitch Kokai
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