Representative Mike Johnson’s election as speaker has thrown the fate of U.S. assistance for Ukraine into doubt, as the Louisiana Republican, a longtime opponent of funding the war effort, resists President Biden’s call to package money for Kyiv in a large emergency spending bill to tackle global crises including Israel’s war against Hamas.
Additional aid for Ukraine, considered vital for sustaining that country’s campaign to beat back Russian aggression, has been in limbo since Sept. 30, when lawmakers averted a government shutdown with only hours to spare. Rushing to meet an urgent spending deadline and facing a revolt from House Republicans, congressional leaders left money for Ukraine out of a short-term bill to keep federal funding flowing. They believed at the time that they could come back to the issue once the threat of a shutdown was behind them, and strike a bipartisan deal to deliver the aid.
But the ouster days later of Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, from the speaker’s post and the installation of Mr. Johnson, a right-wing Republican with a history of voting against Ukraine assistance, has shifted the dynamics. Now leaders are facing yet another shutdown deadline on Nov. 17, and congressional Democrats, White House officials and some leading Republicans are scrambling to salvage Ukraine aid.
They are working against Mr. Johnson’s own personal stance, and considerable pressure he is facing from rank-and-file House Republicans, many of whom have soured on sending additional funding to Kyiv and want to focus exclusively on arming Israel.
In the days since his election, Mr. Johnson has signaled that he will not seek to block aid to Ukraine altogether, but he has also made it clear that he wants to consider it separately from any assistance for Israel, and put tight restrictions on it.
“Our consensus among House Republicans is that we need to bifurcate those issues,” Mr. Johnson said of Ukraine and Israel assistance in an interview on Thursday with Sean Hannity of Fox News.