GOP Speaker Mike Johnson seems unable to articulate a coherent...

GOP Speaker Mike Johnson seems unable to articulate a coherent position, specifically on Ukraine. Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite

An underequipped Ukraine is trying to fend off a new military offensive by Russia, while Israel weighs its response to Iran’s weekend missile attack. All the while China’s saber-rattling threatens Taiwan.

Despite these grim developments, GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson seems unable to articulate a coherent position, specifically regarding Ukraine, on the Biden administration’s requests for aid. Rather than sensibly hold a vote on the Senate’s two-month-delayed, $95 billion foreign aid bill, Johnson is still struggling for a way to finesse the Capitol standoff.

Johnson seems boxed in by a cacophony of impulses within his own party. While Johnson seems willing to take cues from his party’s boss, Donald Trump, the Louisianan also faces threats of being ousted as speaker from the likes of loose-cannon Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Johnson took the extraordinary step on Tuesday of telling his caucus he wasn't resigning after Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky said he is co-sponsoring Greene’s resolution to remove him. 

It’s as if “paralyze-the-speaker” is a seasonal sport for the most extreme Republicans, first launched with the circus-like eviction of Rep. Kevin McCarthy from the top post only six months ago.

With his head in a partisan vice, Johnson has unveiled an elaborate proposal that involves breaking the aid package into separate votes regarding these three U.S. allies and other foreign policy initiatives. “We will let the House work its will,” Johnson told reporters. What "will" is unknown.

Rep. Tom Suozzi, who as part of the Democratic minority frequently shows support for both Ukraine and Israel, is in a uniquely close position to see the Republican ferment, alongside his three Long Island House colleagues in the GOP.

In a persuasive commentary the veteran Democrat from Glen Cove wrote that Russian President Vladimir Putin “didn’t invent American partisanship, but his lies and propaganda have fed it, giving rise to extremists like Mrs. Greene, who would rather America do nothing with democracy on the line.”

“That’s why when Mrs. Greene introduced her proposal to remove Speaker Johnson, I announced that I will support him if he does his job. Democrats must offer Speaker Johnson our votes to save democracy in Ukraine and here. We can’t let our partisan instincts get in our way.”

Suozzi has the scenario right. A key question: Are House leaders trying to tell us they can’t show solidarity with endangered U.S. allies? Certainly if there are conditions to be attached to Israeli or Ukrainian aid, those should be negotiated and made clear once the necessary emergency funds are committed.

Long Island Reps. Andrew Garbarino, Nick LaLota and Anthony D’Esposito would do the U.S. good by coalescing with Suozzi on blasting Greene and speaking out for the linkage of aid bills to save time. The days are wasting and the moment demands clear action.

MEMBERS OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD are experienced journalists who offer reasoned opinions, based on facts, to encourage informed debate about the issues facing our community.


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