Monday, April 8, 2024

Mike Johnson Prepares to Unwrap Mystery UKR Aid Package; Johnson’s UKR Moment, Biden Needs to Help Get Dem Votes; Zelenskyy Says UKR is Open for Loans as a Form of US Aid; 2nd Dam Bursts in RU's Orsk; 67 C.Clashes F-Line; RU Loses: 17 Tanks, 54 Art-Sys, 820 Sold; All 17 RU Drones Downed, LIVE UPDATES and LOTS MORE

Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press
WSJ: Mike Johnson Prepares to Unwrap Mystery Ukraine Aid Package:
Embattled House Speaker Mike Johnson (R., La.) has pledged to bring up Ukraine aid for a vote in the House soon after Congress returns from Easter recess in coming days. But what the bill will look like—and who will support it—remains unsettled due to fractures among Republicans and Democrats over both aid for Kyiv and related assistance for Israel.
The Senate passed a $95 billion package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan in February with bipartisan support. Johnson has resisted calls from defense hawks of both parties to simply bring the Senate bill up for a vote in the House, saying his chamber will move forward with its own bill that would add “some important innovations” not included in the Senate version.
In a tacit acknowledgment of the tricky political terrain, Johnson has said he was weighing splitting up Ukraine aid and Israel aid so that lawmakers can vote on each element separately. Doing so could maximize Democratic votes for Ukraine, which accounts for about $60 billion of the package, while allowing some Republicans to vote for Israel aid, even if they don’t support more money for Ukraine.
Johnson has also publicly floated a few policy proposals that could squeeze some more votes here and there: converting some Ukraine aid to a loan, confiscating seized Russian assets to fund Ukraine’s reconstruction and lifting the Biden administration’s moratorium on new liquefied natural gas export projects. But details are scarce. Even some GOP lawmakers who have been involved in discussions about the package say they haven’t seen the final text of the bill.
Meanwhile, a group of House Democrats sent a letter to Johnson saying the House aid package needed more humanitarian assistance to address urgent needs in Gaza as well as countries including Sudan and Haiti.
The promise of a vote has set Johnson on a collision course with members of his own caucus who don’t want the U.S. to spend any more money to help Ukraine. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R., Ga.), an ardent opponent of Ukraine aid, filed a motion to oust Johnson from the speakership on March 22. But she stopped short of calling the motion up for a vote, saying it was meant as a warning to Johnson. --->READ MORE HERE (or HERE)
Photo: leah millis/Reuters
WSJ: Mike Johnson’s Ukraine Moment
The House Speaker is stepping up, but Biden needs to help get Democratic votes.
Congress returns to Washington this week, and for once something substantive is on the docket. House Speaker Mike Johnson deserves credit for plowing ahead on U.S. support to Ukraine and Israel over the loud objections of his right flank. Few if any votes in the 118th Congress will be as consequential.
The press is preoccupied with the political maneuvering, but the larger strategic picture is that Ukraine is struggling to hold its lines of defense against Russia. The Institute for the Study of War estimates that the Russians have seized about 300 square kilometers of territory since January, albeit at high cost. The Ukrainians are short of ammunition and air defense. Absent an infusion of U.S. weapons, Ukraine will have to make harrowing choices about which ground to relinquish.
In other words, two years of U.S. support and valiant Ukrainian resistance could still result in a victory for Vladimir Putin. The U.S. would look like a feckless friend, and Europe would be the most unstable since Stalin was on the march. America’s friends and foes in Asia and the Middle East will recalculate their strategic risks and opportunities.
Donald Trump is capitalizing on the GOP discontent with President Biden’s Ukraine policy and says he wants to negotiate an end to the war. But Vladimir Putin doesn’t—except on his terms. Mr. Trump will have a stronger hand if Ukraine improves its position between now and next year, which means that more weapons now are in Mr. Trump’s political interest.
Funding for arms passed the Senate with 70 votes but has been hung up in the House. More support for Kyiv is unpalatable to roughly half of the GOP conference. So it’s all the more notable that Mr. Johnson is clear about the stakes and is trying to cobble together a package that can pass. The word for this is leadership.
Mr. Johnson has been floating a proposal that would convert some assistance to loans, an idea Mr. Trump has suggested, and overturn President Biden’s ban on liquefied natural gas exports. Some of the assistance could be paid for by seizing billions in frozen Russian sovereign assets, which makes sense if it can be negotiated with Europe where most of the assets are located. --->READ MORE HERE (or HERE)
Follow links below to +++++relevant+++++ and related stories:

+++++Russia-Ukraine News LATEST UPDATES: (REUTERS) (AP) (NY POST) and (WSJ)+++++

+++++Zelenskyy says Ukraine is open for loans as a form of US aid if it is provided timely+++++

+++++Second dam bursts in Russia's Orsk: local refinery shut down, state of emergency declared – video+++++

+++++War update: 67 combat clashes along frontlines in Ukraine+++++

+++++Russia loses 17 tanks, 54 artillery systems, and 820 soldiers in one day – General Staff+++++

+++++Ukraine’s air defense downed all 17 Shahed drones during an overnight Russian attack — GenStaff+++++

Ukraine repels two Russian assaults in Orikhiv direction, another five – near Krynky

Defense forces destroy Russian Supercam and Orlan-10 reconnaissance drones over Black Sea

In Bakhmut direction, border guards repel assault and eliminate nine invaders

IAEA reports drone detonation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant; Russia accuses Ukraine

Russian forces unable to mine Black Sea - Ukraine’s Navy

Ukraine war update: 57 combat clashes in seven sectors of frontline in past 24 hours

Trump cries ‘fake news’ at report about plan to end Ukraine war by asking ally to give Russia territory

Russian forces more active on Bakhmut front, with 26 assaults today alone – General Staff report

Ukraine's energy system stabilizes, Zelenskiy makes plea for Kharkiv

National Police launches investigation into Ukrainian prisoners shot in Krynky

UK sends “mine plows” to aid Ukraine in demining

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