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D.C. Download: House passes Ukraine aid that has divided Republicans

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) said the structure of the Ukraine aid was appealing to him --- but ultimately voted against it.
Gabby Birenbaum
Gabby Birenbaum
D.C. Download

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At this point I’ve done several newsletters on the topic of Ukraine aid — its passage in the Senate, eroding Republican support and a constant will-they-or-won’t-they about whether Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) will bring foreign aid to the floor.

Given the bleak outlook of the war and the fact that Ukraine aid has always had majority support, it appears that Congress has reached a time for choosing. The House voted Saturday on the provisions of a national security supplemental funding package and decided to fund security assistance to Ukraine, amidst the backdrop of an increasingly isolationist Republican Party.

And tell me if you’ve heard this one before: the speaker’s job might hang in the balance.

The News of the Week: Ukraine aid

We’ve finally hit the finale on the long-simmering tensions over funding security assistance to Ukraine. Johnson brought to the floor for a vote three foreign aid bills — which all passed — and then a “sidecar” bill of national security measures, which passed, and another of Republican priorities, which failed.

Johnson has been lobbied intensely by the Biden administration on the issue, and after months of refusing to put Ukraine aid on the floor, cast his decision in personal terms.

"To put it bluntly, I would rather send bullets to Ukraine than American boys,” he said. “My son is going to begin in the Naval Academy this fall. This is a live fire exercise for me as it is for so many American families."

Congress last successfully appropriated aid to Ukraine at the end of 2022.

Unlike the Senate’s security supplemental, which passed in February with the support of both Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV), the House voted on each of the components separately. But the substance is largely the same as the Senate package that House Republicans — including Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) —  dismissed for lacking provisions addressing the U.S.-Mexico border. A foreign aid bill paired with border provisions was previously rejected by most Senate Republicans.

The House bills contain:

  • $68 billion for Ukraine, $10 billion of which is a loan that the president can forgive starting in 2026
  • $26.4 billion in aid to Israel and Palestine, including $9 billion for humanitarian aid — a requirement for Democrats, who want to see more food and supplies get into Gaza
  • $8 billion for Taiwan, to counter potential Chinese aggression in the region

Essentially breaking the Senate bill into pieces with slight tweaks, Johnson’s plan acknowledges that each foreign aid component has majority support in the House — although not majority support from his party, in the case of Ukraine. And because he needed Democratic votes to pass the bill, Democrats got what they wanted, including humanitarian aid.

It all comes as U.S. intelligence reports indicate that Ukraine is on the verge of losing the war by the end of the year without access to the military assistance that the U.S. had provided in the past.

The plan is that after the House votes Saturday, the bills will be repackaged and sent to the Senate as one piece of legislation.

The bills passed, between the support of more moderate or hawkish Republicans and Democrats who have been clamoring for Ukraine aid. 

The Nevada Angle

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), the delegation’s lone Republican, maintained support for Ukraine aid until September, when he voted against two amendments to spending bills that would have provided security assistance, saying his district was “hot” on the issue.

In February, he stood with Johnson in saying that he was unsupportive of the Senate supplemental over a lack of border provisions.

But by Wednesday, he seemed poised to support the aid provisions, saying the loan structure gave him confidence and that he worried that if the U.S. does not send money to Ukraine now, they might have to send American troops down the line. Ukraine neighbors several countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, whose members, including the U.S., are compelled to come to one another’s defense in the event of an attack from a nation such as Russia.

“As a general proposition, if you let Ukraine [go] overboard, [saying], ‘You're on your own. There's no more aid coming,’” Amodei said, “then, that's an awful message to send.” 

But ultimately, Amodei voted against the Ukraine security supplemental bill with 111 other Republicans. He voted for the Israel and Taiwan bills, and voted in support of packaging the bills together once they all had passed.

He said he also supported Johnson’s strategy of splitting the security supplemental into several parts, so that members are free to vote their conscience on each aspect.

Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV), speaking for most Democrats, called the situation “a cluster” in a Wednesday interview.

“It’s the exact same thing [as the Senate bill],” Horsford said, summing up the politics of the situation succinctly. “What's he [Johnson] doing this for? Who’s he trying to appease? He’s pissing off his caucus even more.”

Indeed, the House Freedom Caucus, the hardline group of Republicans who were a habitual thorn in former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) side, is apoplectic over Johnson’s decision to bring Ukraine aid to the floor. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has threatened Johnson’s speakership over it. 

But despite the political drama and Horsford’s annoyance that Johnson chose not to bring up the Senate bill whole cloth, the Nevada Democrat said he was inclined to support the bills. 

Ultimately, all three of Nevada’s Democratic representatives voted in support of each of the aid bills.

In an interview with Sky News, Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) threw barbs at Johnson over his prior refusal to bring Ukraine assistance up, but she seemed confident that the bills would pass.

“I would say to Ukraine, thank you for being so brave and holding on,” Titus said. “Reinforcements are on the way.”

The Impact

The passage of the foreign aid will have both domestic and international political consequences. 

While the Nevada delegation may be united behind seeing the value in funding Ukraine, the ire on the right over Johnson’s choice could prove to be fatal to his political career — but that’s a problem for next week.

Meanwhile, with national security priorities through the House, and likely through the Senate and to the president shortly, Congress is now freed up to focus on other obligations — potentially including some of the bipartisan priorities of Nevada’s senators

Around the Capitol

🔥”It’s Nevada, sir”Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) mixed it up with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Tuesday in a hearing where she questioned him over the U.S. Postal Service’s decision to relocate its mail processing operations from Reno to Sacramento.

The full video is worth watching — Rosen grills DeJoy on weather restrictions in the Donner Pass, among other fiery interactions — especially for her clear ire at his mispronunciation of Nevada.

🌲Lands rule finalized — The Bureau of Land Management finalized a rule that puts conservation on equal footing with other land uses — such as ranching and mining — on public lands, a proposition that was cheered by environmental groups and met with concern from ranchers and cattlemen. I wrote about the rule when it was first proposed here and my colleague Amy Alonzo covered some of the response here.

🏠WISHing for your dream home? — The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco — the regional bank federally mandated to set aside money for affordable housing — announced a $13 million matching grant program for prospective homeowners in Arizona, California and Nevada.

Lower-income individuals can apply to the WISH program to receive a 4-to-1 matching grant up to $30,806 in down payment assistance.

What I’m Reading

Elko Daily Free Press: Lombardo, Amodei rally Elko County GOP

Both want Republicans to stop fighting and start singing “Kumbaya.”

The Nevada Independent: Rosen introduces bill to federally fund automating cannabis record sealing at state level

How are you celebrating the holiday today?

KLAS Las Vegas: Bridge connecting southern Nevada and Arizona communities set to open in June

The Biden and Trump campaigns should just set up field offices there.

Notable and Quotable

“You don't get to sacrifice those living in my rural areas or subject to harsher weather in the name of cost savings. The Postal Service has an obligation to deliver to everyone.”

— Rosen to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy

Vote of the week

H.R.6323 — Iran Counterterrorism Act

The House took a number of votes on Iran-related bills in the wake of the Middle Eastern nation’s attack on Israel, with several splitting members of both parties. This particular bill restricts the president from waiving secondary sanctions on Iranian financial assets until he gives Congress the opportunity to review the transaction. Fifty-nine Democrats joined almost every Republican to vote for the bill.



LEE: Not voting


This story was updated at 12:30 p.m. 4/20/23 to add how the Nevada delegation voted on the aid bills.


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