House Speaker Mike Johnson vowed on Sunday to move forward with a $14.5 billion aid package for Israel when the House returns later this week, according to sources on his first GOP conference call since ascending to the top job.
Johnson’s decision to move a standalone funding bill for Israel, which he told members would be fully paid for, and detach it from Ukraine aid will tee up a showdown with the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House, which prefer to link the two issues, given Ukraine aid on its own faces an uncertain path in the GOP-led House. Johnson told CNN last week he supports Ukraine aid but needs “conditions” on it.
The first week of the Johnson-led House comes as government funding is set to run out next month, setting up an immediate test of the Louisiana Republican’s ability to move appropriations bills and aid to Israel amid a push for motions targeting specific lawmakers.
During Sunday’s conference call, sources say House Majority Leader Steve Scalise walked members through the entire floor schedule for the week – with the House returning for votes Wednesday evening – while GOP Whip Tom Emmer stressed the importance of attendance.
Leadership needs all members in Washington this week, which was initially supposed to be a recess week, in part because they may be taking close votes.
In addition to spending bills, the House will also have to consider various measures aimed at punishing specific lawmakers, including a resolution to expel New York GOP Rep. George Santos, who pleaded not guilty in federal court Friday to 10 charges alleging he stole donors’ identities and ran up thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges on their credit cards, among other offenses.
Also on the table this week: a resolution to censure Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib and a resolution to censure Georgia GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. These censures, once uncommon and used typically for the gravest of offenses, are now increasingly employed.
Johnson did not tip his hand on how he thinks Republicans should handle the Santos expulsion effort, but he did sound wary of the Tlaib censure effort, which has sparked a tit-for-tat with Democrats.
Johnson told Republican members “we should fight Democrats on policy,” sources on the call said.