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GOP Rep. Mike Lawler says he’s ‘confident’ Ukraine funding will get a vote after Easter recess

Rep. Mike Lawler, a moderate Republican from New York, expressed optimism on Sunday that a vote on funding for Ukraine’s war effort could land on the House floor when members return from recess early next month. Divisions in the House GOP have so far stymied progress on sending aid to the key US ally.

“I believe there will be a vote when we get back from the Easter recess,” Lawler, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”

He added, “Certainly, this is critically important for our allies. We are the leader of the free world, and we cannot shirk on our responsibility to uphold and defend democracies across the globe.”

Lawler acknowledged that he and his co-sponsors Democratic Rep. Jared Golden of Maine and Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania are pushing a discharge petition to allow for a vote on their bill, which pairs Ukraine and border security funding, “but I am hopeful that the speaker will put the bill on the floor or an amended version of the bill on the floor so that we can once and for all ensure that our allies have the aid and support that they need.”

The Republican said he’s spoken with House Speaker Mike Johnson about the discharge petition effort.

“I have spoken to him directly. I am not going to delve into the details of that conversation, but I am confident that he’s going to bring that bill to the floor and that we will have a vote,” Lawler said.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner said Sunday that Johnson has made “very clear statements” that passing supplemental aid to Ukraine will be “the next top agenda” upon Congress’ return.

“We are at a critical juncture on the ground that is beginning to be able to impact not only morale of the Ukrainians that are fighting but also their ability to fight,” the Ohio Republican told CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin knows this.”

Putting funding for Ukraine on the floor poses a difficult conundrum for Johnson. The speaker could face a vote for his removal, with GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene filing a motion to vacate before the Easter recess but so far stopping short of forcing a vote on that resolution. And with many far-right Republicans opposing any new money to Ukraine in its fight against Russia, Johnson runs the risk of angering members who may soon hold the Louisiana representative’s fate in their hands.

Lawler called Greene’s effort to oust Johnson “idiotic.”

“It’s not actually going to help advance the cause she believes in, and in fact it undermines our House Republican majority,” Lawler said.

Democrats have signaled they may be willing to save Johnson if he moves a Ukraine aid bill they can support, but one including new border restrictions, as Lawler has suggested, falls outside their demands.

The debate over combining foreign aid with border provisions played out in dramatic fashion last month, with Senate Republicans ultimately blocking a major bipartisan deal — which would have provided aid to US allies while enacting restrictive border measures — in the face of stiff opposition from House Republicans and former President Donald Trump.

Following that failed effort, the Senate last month passed a standalone $95.3 billion foreign aid bill with assistance for Ukraine and Israel, which Johnson said at the time he would not bring up for a vote. Behind the scenes, CNN reported earlier this month that Johnson had left the door open for some House Republicans to craft a package with foreign aid and restrictions on the US border with Mexico that could be brought up after members successfully finalized a deal to fund the government — which was accomplished earlier this month and signed by President Joe Biden last week.

CNN’s Melanie Zanona, Annie Grayer, Manu Raju, Clare Foran, Ted Barrett and Morgan Rimmer contributed to this report.

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