Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Foreign Affairs, Part I: Johnson Threads His Needle

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and his leadership team have apparently decided on a strategy when it comes to the various foreign aid issues that are currently languishing. He's going to put forward four separate bills:

Note that the Senate passed a bill many months ago that had all those things in one nice, tidy bundle.

So, what is the point of splitting up the bills? Well, since the contents are not yet public, it's hard to know. Johnson could be trying to cut some of the things Democrats want out of the package(s), like humanitarian aid. Alternatively, he could be setting it up so that some bills (Israel) succeed, while others (Ukraine) fail. Then he would be able to say, "Hey, I tried, but the votes just weren't there." Or, he could be setting it up so that the House Freedom Caucus has the power to kill the measures, but is unable to do it. Then he would be able to say, "You had your chance, and you couldn't find the votes. Don't blame me."

Will it work? Maybe, depending on what's in the bills. House Democrats, especially the moderates, say the need is acute enough at this point that they're willing to help the Speaker out, if the bills he proposes are acceptable (read: they include humanitarian aid). That said, there are also some problems for Johnson. The Freedom Caucus is, of course, furious, because they're always furious. And the White House made clear yesterday that a stand-alone bill for Israel, without any accompanying aid for Ukraine, is unacceptable. Oh, and Donald Trump hasn't weighed in yet, but of course he is capable of throwing a giant wrench into the works at any time.

In short: Good luck, Mr. Speaker. You're going to need it. (Z)

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