Latest News 01-03-2024 00:01 7 Views

Top House Republican prepares ‘fail safe’ option in case GOP can’t reach agreement on Ukraine aid

A top House Republican lawmaker is preparing a legislative maneuver that could bring Ukraine aid to the House floor for a vote if Republicans can't come to agreement among themselves on the funding.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, said that he was deploying the strategy as a 'fail-safe' in the event a Republican consensus is elusive.

'This is a fail-safe in the case that the conference can't come to a consensus for language on the floor,' Fitzpatrick told Fox News Digital Thursday evening.

Traditionally, House leadership controls which bills get put up for a vote. The maneuver, a discharge petition, would force a vote with the support of a simple House majority.

The strategy would allow Johnson to avoid potentially having to roll his caucus by moving the bill to the floor with Republicans in disagreement with each other. Instead, the discharge petition would force Johnson's hand and allow a vote in which Democrats might join Republicans to approve the assistance.

'We recognize the tough political situation our speaker is in. We're just trying to figure out an additional option, an escape patch,' Fitzpatrick said. 'We are 100% working with him and his team to try to get this bill to the floor.'

Fitzpatrick told reporters earlier Thursday that lives were at stake.

'It’s existential, it’s time-sensitive. Whether it’s our [bill] or somebody else’s, we’ve just got to get the money out the door,' Fitzpatrick said. 

Before a discharge petition can be activated, however, the measure must sit in the House Rules Committee - where legislation traditionally is voted on before it gets to the floor - untouched for seven days.

'All this is doing is adding a pressure point on something that's very time-sensitive to at least have a backstop in place. So, if nobody can come to a conclusion as to what to put on the floor, if somebody's afraid to put something on the floor, then we're ready to go,' Fitzpatrick told Fox News Digital earlier in the day.

He led a bipartisan bill earlier this month aimed at providing roughly $66 billion in military-only aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, which would also institute strict border measures like the Trump administration's 'Remain In Mexico' policy.

The bill was introduced after a larger $118 billion border policy and foreign aid package failed in the Senate amid Republican protests that it did not go far enough to solve the migrant crisis.

Since then, lawmakers in both the House and Senate have urged Johnson to hold a vote on some form of Ukraine aid, citing Kyiv’s recent losses in the war against Russia amid a shortage of ammunition and personnel. They have argued that helping Ukraine defeat Russian President Vladimir Putin now would prevent a wider European conflict – one that could possibly involve the U.S. in a direct conflict with Moscow.

Johnson has not provided much clarity on his strategy for dealing with Ukraine. He is under immense pressure from his right flank to withhold any bills related to Ukraine aid, with a significant portion of the GOP calling for the U.S. to not get involved.

It would be a major step for one of Johnson’s fellow Republicans to sideline him on a high-level item like Ukraine, but it could also afford him an opportunity to escape GOP hardliners’ wrath.

Fitzpatrick said he has not discussed the discharge petition with Johnson.

Fox News Digital asked Fitzpatrick whether the measure is also aimed at giving Johnson some wiggle room with GOP Ukraine aid critics. The Pennsylvania Republican smiled and nodded, saying, 'Your words, not mine.'

With the current makeup of the House, Fitzpatrick would need 217 lawmakers to sign onto his discharge petition in order for it to make it to the floor. 

Rep. Marc Molinaro, R-N.Y., whose district has a significant Ukrainian population, expressed hope that House negotiators are 'getting closer to an agreement' and would not have to take 'extraordinary' measures.

'We continue to stand with them to provide lethal support, but also the appropriate oversight, and hopefully we can get to an agreement that does that and secures our border. I think the speaker understands that there is significant interest in getting such a deal done,' Molinaro said.

House Freedom Caucus Policy Chair Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, was pessimistic about the move.

'I think the speaker is inclined to want to put Ukraine on the floor anyway,' Roy said. 'So, discharge petition or not, what's going to happen is, we're going to bust the [spending] caps, we're going to spend more money, we're not going to secure the border. Ukraine is going to get funded. And the American people are going to be wondering what the hell the difference is between the two parties.'

Fox News Digital reached out to Johnson’s office for comment. Calls were not returned at press time. 


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