Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Senate Passes $95 Billion Foreign Aid Bill This Morning

Early this morning (in other words, just minutes before this post went live) the Senate passed a bill to provide aid to U.S. allies abroad. The vote was 70-29, with 22 Republicans voting "aye." All members of the Democratic caucus voted for the bill except Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Peter Welch (D-VT), so it was 48 Democrats and 22 Republicans that put it over the top. That was more than enough to invoke cloture in the event the Republicans tried to filibuster it, which they didn't because they knew the score.

The bill includes $60 billion to support Ukraine, $14 billion in military aid to help Israel, $9 billion in humanitarian aid in the Middle East, and $5 billion for Taiwan. There is no money for beefing up security on the border with Mexico (despite that being the Republicans' top priority) because Senate Republicans tanked a bill with money for border security last week on orders from Donald Trump.

The $64 question (or, slightly more accurately, $64 billion question) is what will happen over in the House? House Republicans want to help Israel but don't especially want to help Ukraine. They see it as a waste of money, ignoring the fact that what these countries will actually get is not cash but a credit for buying military equipment made by American companies employing American workers, so the money actually goes into the American economy. Also, they don't really mind if Russia conquers most of Eastern Europe to restore the old Soviet Union. They somehow think that if a full-scale war breaks out in Europe, the U.S. won't be affected. We think they weren't paying attention in history class when the teacher was talking about 1914 and 1939 and the years immediately following them. Some House Republicans also oppose the bill because of the lack of border money (thanks to Senate Republicans). In short, there is nothing but chaos within the House Republican caucus at the moment.

If the bill were to come up for a vote in the House—a big if—almost all the Democrats and enough Republicans will vote for it to pass. But since Donald Trump does not want Joe Biden to get any victories—and certainly not at the expense of his best friend, Vladimir Putin—Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) will try to avoid bringing it up for a vote. However, the pressure on him will be enormous, especially if Joe Biden makes a formal Oval Office speech explaining to Americans why the bill is important for American security. If the bill fails and Russia takes over Ukraine, "Who lost Ukraine?" could become a campaign issue.

House Democrats do have one potential option to force Johnson's hand. If they band together and can get three or four Republicans (depending on who wins the special election in NY-03 today) to sign a discharge petition, they can force a bill to the floor for a vote. Johnson and Trump will be extremely angry if they try this, but at this point, the Democrats probably don't care. And actually, though he could not say it publicly, Johnson might be happy to be overruled like this. Then, this hot potato would be off his desk, and yet he could say to Trump "Hey, wasn't me!"

If Johnson caves to public pressure and brings the bill up for a vote, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has promised to introduce a motion to vacate the chair. On the other hand, if he doesn't, someone else, possibly a Democrat, could bring up a motion to vacate the chair. It won't be long before Johnson is thinking: "Why did I even try to get this lousy job?" (V)

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