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Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick gets on the elevator

A big week for the future of foreign aid

Aside from the State of the Union Thursday — and the government funding deadline midnight Friday — this is also a big week for Ukraine aid on Capitol Hill.

Let’s get this out of the way. Speaker Mike Johnson isn’t going to put the Senate’s foreign aid bill — which would steer tens of billions of dollars to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan — on the House floor for an up-or-down vote. No matter how many times House Democrats demand it or plot to make it happen, Johnson won’t fold on this.

Ukraine is the key here. Johnson is a Ukraine skeptic himself, even though the Louisiana Republican has said Congress is “not going to abandon Ukraine.” Johnson has complained that President Joe Biden and top administration officials lack “a clear strategy in Ukraine, a path to resolving the conflict, or a plan for adequately ensuring accountability for aid provided by American taxpayers.” Like other Republicans, Johnson wants Biden to take steps toward resolving the U.S.-Mexico border crisis before doing anything on Ukraine.

So there are basically three viable options in the House for aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

1) Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s (R-Pa.) discharge petition. Fitzpatrick’s resolution, which is also backed by Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) and a bipartisan group of House members, includes aid to those three key U.S. allies. However, it also has several immigration-related provisions, such as reinstatement of “Remain in Mexico” and expulsion authority for non-asylum-seeking migrants.

Fitzpatrick’s discharge petition is live on Friday.

The bullish view on this strategy is that the border-security provisions could attract some more Republican signatures. That said, a sizable number of House Republicans are opposed to Ukraine aid in principle.

The skeptical view is that House Democrats will never agree to any immigration-related provisions when the Senate bill doesn’t include any of these.

Supporters of Fitzpatrick’s approach tell us they will press Republicans and Democrats to come on board, saying they shouldn’t block aid to Ukraine because of immigration provisions that would help both the border and Biden’s political standing.

2) Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) will have his own discharge petition that calls for a straight up-or-down vote on the $95 billion Senate foreign aid package.

To be honest, this seems like the most straightforward way to get anything done. There are, in fact, at least five House GOP supporters of the Senate package. And if every Democrat signs onto the petition and five Republicans join along, the bill will come up for a vote.

The downside for the GOP’s Ukraine supporters is that there’s no immigration language here. But they can thank their leadership for killing the Senate’s bipartisan border-and-immigration bill.

We’ve heard from some Republicans who say they can’t sign onto a Democratic-led discharge petition, even if they agree with the underlying legislation. For Democrats, there’s also a question of how many progressives will refuse to sign in protest of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza due to the ongoing Israeli military campaign.

3) Or if someone on the GOP side really has guts, they can take down a previous question. If the House Republican leadership brings a bill to the floor under a rule, there is a vote on the previous question. If the minority defeats that, they then have the ability to bring up their own bill for a vote. This happened in April 1988 on the issue of dial-a-porn. Really, we’re not kidding. But that’s the last time this has occurred.

The House Republican leadership doesn’t bring many bills to the floor under a rule anymore thanks to opposition from conservative hardliners. There will be two this week — the Laken Riley Act and a bill on capital formation.

Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan

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