Texas House Republicans split over whether to send Ukraine aid

WASHINGTON — Texas Republicans are on opposite sides of the heated tug of war over whether Congress sends aid to Ukraine in its war against Russia.

On one side, it’s U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Austin, and members of the House Freedom Caucus who have stalled Ukraine aid for months, demanding that Congress pass a bill securing the southern border before considering the foreign aid package.

Roy at a press conference Thursday railed that Republicans were giving away their leverage to pass meaningful border security legislation because Speaker Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana, is advancing the $60.8 billion Ukraine aid bill.

“We’ve let every single funding bill get across the floor without securing the border of the United States with a promise to use Ukraine as leverage with the administration to guarantee a secure border,” Roy said. “And here we are completely running away from that promise. Well, not on our watch. We're gonna throw everything we have at stopping this foolish capitulation by Republican leadership.”

Leading the Texans on the other side of the fight is Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, who authored legislation that is part of Johnson’s foreign aid package.

“There is nothing our adversaries would love more than if Congress were to fail to pass critical national security aid. Speaker Johnson has produced a plan that will boost U.S. national security interests in Europe, the Middle East, and the Indo-Pacific,” McCaul, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a joint statement with fellow Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, has also been supportive of Ukraine. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, signaled support for the legislation when he described the Ukraine aid as "critical funding while also safeguarding American generosity” in a House Committee on Rules meeting Thursday.

Ukraine aid has been held up for months by hardline Republicans who have threatened to oust Johnson as speaker if he so much as brings the legislation to the floor. Johnson tried to appease those members by breaking up the foreign aid legislation into three separate votes providing aid to Ukraine, Israel and allies in the Indo-Pacific. The House is expected to vote on the legislation on Saturday evening.

Before the legislation for Ukraine aid can hit the floor, House members will need to pass a rule — a tough move for Johnson, who can only afford to lose one vote on the rule to move Ukraine funding forward, given the GOP’s razor-thin majority. He can lose just two if Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, who planned to resign from his post Friday, stays through the weekend to vote on the aid package.

Johnson, who has previously voted against Ukraine aid, said Wednesday that he was not worried about losing his job over bringing the bill.

“I think providing lethal aid to Ukraine right now is critically important,” Johnson said at a press conference on Wednesday. “I really do. I really do believe the intel and the briefings that we’ve gotten. I believe Xi, Vladimir Putin and Iran really are an axis of evil. I think they’re in coordination on it.”

Roy declined to comment on if he would support a motion to vacate Johnson’s speakership.

“I opposed that last September, I do not want to go into that zipcode, if you will,” he said in an interview with CNN. “I would rather us do our job, try to move this stuff forward, work together. But I will say I’m very disappointed in the Speaker. This is a bridge too far in terms of where we’re headed right now.”

Meanwhile, the Freedom Caucus, which includes Reps. Troy Nehls, R-Richmond, and Michael Cloud, R-Victoria, is urging Republicans to reject the rule that would allow the foreign aid legislation to get a floor vote.

“The House Freedom Caucus will vote NO on rule for the ‘America Last’ foreign wars supplemental package with zero border security, and urge all House Republicans to do the same. To secure the border, we must kill the rule,” the caucus said in a memo Thursday.

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