Speaker Mike Johnson is under pressure from his hard-right caucus as...

Speaker Mike Johnson is under pressure from his hard-right caucus as he tries to negotiate a foreign aid deal including money for Ukraine. Credit: For the Washington Post/Craig Hudson

More and more we hear warnings from various quarters that the nation of Ukraine — besieged by Russia for more than two years now — cannot keep up the fight much longer if the United States fails to step up its material support for the government in Kyiv. The status quo could only embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin and weaken our standing with European allies.

“It’s important to specifically address the Congress: If the Congress doesn’t help Ukraine, Ukraine will lose the war,” Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told a fundraising group Sunday in a video meeting. “If Ukraine loses this war, other countries will be attacked,” Zelenskyy warned.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has refused so far to approve an aid package for Ukraine. Some GOP members go so far as to parrot Russian propaganda points on the House floor, as acknowledged by Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), who plays a relevant role as chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

GOP Speaker Mike Johnson, pressured by his famously raucous caucus, has reportedly been contemplating his options in a way that could build support for a foreign aid bill acceptable to his chronic complainers — and keep himself from being ousted as leader. In the background lurks de facto national party leader Donald Trump, who established his hostility to Zelenskyy and obsequiousness to Putin years ago.

Johnson also is trying to hinge Ukraine aid on a repeal of the Biden administration’s freeze on permits for new liquefied natural gas exports, which could benefit business interests in his home state of Louisiana. It's unnecessary and would complicate the aid deal.

Must Johnson keep exploring alternatives? Not surprisingly, his fellow GOP leader, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, doesn’t think so. “We’re running out of time,” McConnell has warned. While Ukraine is running out of ammunition, Putin is reportedly preparing a new offensive in June.

If the goal here is truly a matter of helping those the U.S. considers allies, both militarily and economically, the most practical framework remains a $95 billion measure already approved by the Senate in February. That includes money for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. While Israel’s conduct of the Gaza war has alienated even some of that nation’s supporters in the U.S., the Senate bill still looks plausible, even if the Biden administration attaches new strings on it, perhaps with more restrictive language on what would be done with the weaponry and humanitarian aid.

House Republicans can continue through the year to stall and bicker and play a pandering game of election-year politics. Or they can act constructively. They have already proved they cannot legislate effectively and stand divided at the same time. Nobody can. They should work with what the Senate has handed them, sooner rather than later.

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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