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House Speaker Mike Johnson risks job to deliver aid to Ukraine



House Speaker Mike Johnson risks job to deliver aid to Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — Staring down a call so consequential it might alter the course of historical past — but additionally finish his personal profession — Home Speaker Mike Johnson prayed for steerage.

A conservative Christian, the speaker wrestled over whether or not to steer the Home in approving $95 billion in desperately wanted war-time support for Ukraine, Israel and different U.S. allies, which many in his personal Republican majority opposed — some so strongly they’d attempt to boot him from workplace.

Or, he might do nothing, halting the move of U.S. support and doubtlessly saving his personal job however making certain his place because the Home speaker who led America’s retreat from the worldwide stage and left Ukraine to fend for itself because it loses floor in opposition to the Russian invasion.

As Johnson met with colleagues late into the evening this week on the speaker’s workplace, they prayed on it.

“After which he advised me the following day: I wish to be on the correct facet of historical past,” mentioned Rep. Michael McCaul, the chairman of the Overseas Affairs Committee.

Not fairly six months on the job, Johnson’s management will assist decide if the U.S. is ready to maintain its standing as what the speaker has known as a “beacon of sunshine” for the world, or if the army and humanitarian support is left to crumble at a pivotal second for the nation, its allies and the speaker’s personal livelihood. Voting is anticipated this weekend.

“He’s studying,” mentioned Newt Gingrich, the previous Republican Home speaker.

Gingrich praised Johnson for not being cowed by the hard-right Republicans in search of to take away him from workplace, and as a substitute reaching into his personal deep nicely of beliefs as a Ronald Reagan-era Republican with an expansive view of the function of U.S., its allies and his personal speakership to decide.

“That is the U.S. Home. This isn’t a political playground,” Gingrich mentioned. “We’re speaking about actual historical past, we’re speaking about whether or not Russia doubtlessly occupies Ukraine.”

Johnson tumbled into the speaker’s workplace final fall, a relative unknown who emerged solely after a chaotic inner celebration search to interchange Kevin McCarthy, who was the primary speaker in U.S. historical past to he booted from workplace.

Nearly an unintended speaker, Johnson had no coaching and little time to arrange. Considered one of his principal accomplishments was serving to to steer Donald Trump’s failed authorized efforts to overturn the 2020 election loss to Joe Biden within the run-up to the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol.

From the beginning, the query hanging over the fourth-term Louisiana lawmaker was obvious: Would Johnson turn out to be a speaker with a agency grasp of the gavel, using the ability of the workplace that’s second within the line of succession to the president?

Or would the Home speaker, who portrays himself as a “servant chief” within the Christian custom, be beholden to the unruly, basically ungovernable Republican majority, many aligned with former President Trump.

“This can be a Churchill or Chamberlain second,” mentioned Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the Democratic chief, referring to British leaders from the World Battle II period.

After months of dithering delays over the Ukraine support, Johnson appeared this week decided to maneuver previous the populist far-right flank, and depend on Democrats to push the package deal ahead, extremely uncommon within the deeply polarized Home.

He had met lately with Trump, who objects to a lot abroad support and has invited Russia to “do regardless of the hell they need” in Ukraine, presenting his plan and avoiding public criticism from the previous president.

Trump additionally gave Johnson a wanted nod of help by panning the hassle from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of many presidential hopeful’s strongest allies in Congress, to evict the speaker.

In return, Johnson advised Trump he could possibly be the “most consequential president but” if he’s returned to the White Home.

On the similar time, Johnson has been talking privately with President Biden, who gave Johnson a lift by shortly endorsing his overseas support plan.

Nonetheless, what was thought-about the best way Congress labored, the shared dedication to bipartisan compromise, has turn out to be such a political legal responsibility that extra Republicans, together with Reps. Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Paul Gosar of Arizona, mentioned they’d be a part of Greene’s effort to oust Johnson. Some others mentioned he ought to merely resign.

“I don’t suppose he’s being brave. I believe he’s fallen proper according to the swamp,” mentioned Rep. Eli Crane, R-Ariz., a hardliner who voted to oust McCarthy and is contemplating the identical for Johnson.

Throughout his brief time period as speaker, Johnson has made a observe of convening lawmakers behind closed doorways at his Capitol workplace for what are sometimes lengthy conferences. What some view as maddening periods of limitless arguing, shrinking the ability of the speakership, others respect as him listening to lawmakers.

As crowds of spring vacationers ushered previous his workplace this week, Johnson holed up with lawmakers. One assembly dragged till midnight. The subsequent day he displayed an uncommon resolve.

“Historical past judges us for what we do,” Johnson mentioned throughout an impromptu press convention in Statuary Corridor.

“I might make a egocentric choice and do one thing that’s totally different, however I’m doing right here what I imagine to be the correct factor,” he mentioned.

Johnson disclosed that his son is headed to the Naval Academy this fall.

“To place it bluntly, I’d slightly ship bullets to Ukraine than American boys,” he mentioned.

“This can be a live-fire train for me, as it’s so many American households. This isn’t a sport. This isn’t a joke.”

With the specter of his elimination intensifying, Johnson mentioned he would “let the chips fall the place they might” on his personal job.

On Friday, an amazing majority of the Home, greater than 300 lawmakers, extra Democrats than Republicans, voted to push the package deal towards passage.

Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., mentioned of Johnson: “I, for one, am simply very pleased with what we might all confer with as a profile in braveness within the face of those sorts of threats.”

However Democrats mentioned they have been baffled and saddened it took Johnson so lengthy to do what they see as the correct factor.

“This can be a profile in delay,” mentioned Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.

Some Democrats are saying that, in contrast to their refusal to assist McCarthy keep in workplace, they’d vote to save lots of Johnson’s job — if he desires it.

A rising record of Republican Home audio system, beginning with Gingrich, have been chased from workplace or, like John Boehner and Paul Ryan, merely exited early.


Related Press author Kevin Freking contributed to this report.

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