Speaker Johnson’s Aid Package for Ukraine will Clear the House

He sprang a complete surprise

Shankar Narayan
7 min readApr 18, 2024
Image Credit: Speaker Johnson

House Speaker Johnson releasing the Ukraine aid bill came as a complete surprise to me. It’s set for a vote on April 20th, 2024. The White House quickly rallied in support for the proposed aid bills not only for Ukraine but also for the Indo-Pacific and Israel.

I believe House Speaker Johnson has secured the votes for the Ukraine bill. We’ll delve into the specifics of the vote later in the article. First, let’s explore the key elements of the bill.

  • The aid package for Ukraine will be $60.84 billion.
  • $23.2 billion to replenish defense articles and defense services provided to Ukraine.
  • $11.3 billion for current U.S. military operations in the region.
  • $13.8 billion for the procurement of advanced weapons systems, defense articles, and defense services.
  • $26 million to continue oversight and accountability of aid and equipment provided to Ukraine.
  • Some of the aid is provided in the form of a loan, with the President of the United States granted the authority to cancel 50% of the loan after November 15, 2024.
  • Funding will remain available for use until the end of this year, with no timeline restrictions on certain arms procurement, such as missiles.

After reading the bill, I walked away very impressed, not solely due to its dollar amount, but because of certain embedded elements within it. The bill’s two most crucial parts are as follows:

The Biden administration has 45 days to outline its strategy for victory in Ukraine:

The bill requires the Biden administration to submit its strategy in Ukraine no later than 45 days after the enactment of the act.

The admin must detail “ a strategy regarding United States support for Ukraine against aggression by the Russian Federation: Provided, That such strategy shall be multi-year, establish specific and achievable objectives, define and prioritize United States national security interests, and include the metrics to be used to measure progress in achieving such objectives”

The bill asks the administration to send long range missiles to Ukraine:

“As soon as practicable after the date of enactment of this Act, the President shall transfer long range Army Tactical Missile Systems to the Government of Ukraine to assist the Government of Ukraine in defending itself and achieving victory against the Russian Federation”.

It does provide the Biden administration with a small loophole to escape. In the event that President Biden decides sending ATACMS missiles to Ukraine would be detrimental to American national security interests, then his administration must notify Congress of its reasons.

Remember this administration telling us how cumbersome it would be for Ukraine to handle the Abrams tanks, but quietly shipping two hundred of them to Morocco? Also, they told us that training F16 pilots would take years and, as a result, it would be impossible. They are experts at inventing things to convince us. However, the administration’s primary problem, one it will likely seek to avoid, is that the entire Europe and the world are now closely watching the various excuses this administration comes up with.

That’s likely why Speaker Johnson, along with good politicians on both sides of the aisle, kept that wording in place. Sending a notification to Congress filled with nonsense isn’t a great idea, as it would undoubtedly be scrutinized word by word in the media. The administration’s most probable escape route would be to send ATACMS in small quantities.

Even small quantities of ATACMS will make a monumental difference on the battlefield. The Russians are shell-shocked by the ATACMS attack Ukraine launched on the Dzonkhoi airfield yesterday. Details are still trickling in, but the visual evidence I saw leads me to believe that this is the biggest and most impactful attack Ukrainian forces have delivered on the Russians.

Just 12 ATACMS missiles, costing probably way less than $12 million, drained one billion dollars from the Russian army.

Add a zero to 12, and extrapolate the impact it can have on the battlefield in one day. Then multiply that by 30. HIMARS loaded with ATACMS is a war-winning weapon. Speaker Johnson’s bill is pushing the Biden administration to do the right thing in Ukraine.

It is asking the Biden adiminstration to stop holding back on high end weapons that has the potential to change the trajectory of the battle.

Allowing Ukrainians to die because this administration fears a Russian defeat is not a strategy. No one asked Putin to invade; he did it on his own. Allowing him the opportunity to escape with his throne because we have no idea who will occupy it next, or if there will even be a throne remaining after the defeat, is not our concern. Innocent lives cannot be sacrificed at the altar out of fear of the unknown. We need to believe in our strength, that we will be able to handle the unknown as long as we stand together.

Now, thanks to Ukraine aid bill, the Biden adminstration must tell us all how they are planning to help Ukraine achieve victory. Yes, the Speaker’s bill is explicitly asking the administration to define how they are planning to help Ukraine achieve victory.

Never in my life did I think I would ever read something like this in a congressional bill.

Here it is (from page 33):

That such strategy shall include an estimate, on a fiscal year-by-fiscal year basis, of the resources required by the United States to achieve such objectives, including to help hasten Ukrainian victory against Russia’s invasion forces in a manner most favorable to United States interests and objectives, and a description of the national security implications for the United States if those objectives are not met.

What is going on with Speaker Johnson?

This certainly feels like a huge risk taken by House Speaker Johnson. The MAGA circus is already out there, running around asking the Speaker to resign and calling him all sorts of things in the world. Former President Trump has remained silent on the issue. He hasn’t come fully in favor of Ukraine aid, nor has he come out fully in opposition.

So it’s not just the MAGA. There are parts within the MAGA movement that are screaming from the rooftops not to help Ukraine. Mainly, some congressional representatives, and soon some iconic senators will join their chorus.

But the timing is way too tight for the fringe operating within the fringe to gain any momentum. These people need to work the media in order to gain support and apply pressure on the Speaker. And Speaker Johnson is not alone in this. There are powerful Republicans holding committee positions who are going to rally in support of the Speaker.

It is a given that the Speaker is not going to get every single one of his party members to vote in favor of all four bills he is bringing to the floor. Speaker Johnson will need Democratic votes to pass the bills, and he will also need their support to stop the MAGA circus from bringing a ‘motion to vacate’ in order to fire the House Speaker from his post.

It was a very smart move to keep the time extremely short for the MAGA fringe to chip away at the Republican votes. He refused the Kremlin time to work its minions in the western world, the subsidy hungry billionaire king for example, to rally people against the bill.

Yesterday, Speaker Johnson made an emotional pitch to Americans:

“Look, history judges us for what we do. this is a critical time right now… I can make a selfish decision and do something that is different but I’m doing here what I believe to be the right thing. … I think providing lethal aid to Ukraine right now is critically important. … I’m willing to take personal risk for that.”

He did anger the MAGA circus. But they are going to get angry anyway. It does not matter what you do. Their job is obstruction and theater. That is where the eyeballs are and that is where the money is.

If Johnson keeps running around in fear, he will only face the same fate as former House Speaker McCarthy. He needs to show strength if he wants to stop the fringe from rolling him over.

I am extremely confident that the Ukraine aid bill will clear the house, and I also believe that the House Speaker has kept former President Donald Trump in the loop.

He has worked the votes.

Good on him.

I did not anticipate this at all. I did expect the Speaker to pass the bill. But I did not think he will do it with victory against Russia in mind.

The bill very clearly shows that the Speaker, despite all the brickbats he received, has proved all of them wrong. This bill has so many things that will help Ukraine. It also forces the Biden administration to stop dithering and get its act together.

I also believe Republican Congressman Michael McCaul, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, deserves a lot of credit. There will be many more people on both sides of the aisle. They have done it.

Every bill will have something for us to pick on. If I read it another ten times, I will find some. There is no point in going down that road. There are some who are already making the case that the aid package won’t be enough for Ukraine.

I absolutely disagree with them.

This bill will help Ukraine.

That is enough for now.

Do not drain your strength today by worrying about tomorrow. Let us get this one out of our way now. Then we can worry about the next one.


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Shankar Narayan

He didn't care what he had or what he had left, he cared only about what he must do.