Skip to content

Speaker Johnson, The Last Holdout On Ukraine Funding, Caves

Sadly, he joins the Beltway crowd to promote forever wars in foreign nations.

Photo by Roberto Schmidt/Getty Images

Days after gaveling the House to order as the new Speaker last October, Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana appeared on Sean Hannity's Fox News program to introduce himself for a full hour to the American voter. It was a superb move. Most Americans knew little about Johnson as he had avoided the spotlight for the seven years he had served in Congress, staying in the shadows of his more powerful colleague, Steve Scalise, the House Majority Whip. 

At the time, Johnson seemed remarkably ill-informed about Ukraine. He repeated the moderate GOP positions of Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, and Chris Christie by asserting that "President Putin should not be allowed to prevail in Ukraine because I don't believe it would stop there—and it would probably encourage and empower China to perhaps make a move on Taiwan."

The idea that Putin will continue his aggression beyond Ukraine is nonsense. We dedicated an entire editorial to the topic and showed that the claim is nothing more than military-industrial-complex-speak to aid more forever wars. We have repeatedly argued in these pages that it is not dignified for Washington to let a much-weaker Ukraine sacrifice its citizens’ lives and become fodder to the Russian onslaught simply so that America can modernize its weapons inventories and weaken Russia's military might. Providing more weapons to Ukraine now (not to mention funds to pay Ukrainian government salaries and pensions) will only extend the carnage and killing.

But while Johnson stalled pressure for six months from Biden and the Uni party forces from around the world bent on funding Ukraine, the Speaker finally caved on Friday. According to the New York Times, Johnson vowed, "We're going to get this done," after he joined congressional leaders in meeting with Japan's Prime Minister in the Capitol on Thursday morning. The Japanese leader also ardently supports  America sending aid to Ukraine. 

The Speaker has tried to have it both ways to appease conservative members of his caucus, which enjoys only a one-vote majority today. Rather than sending a free check to Ukraine, Johnson said he would draft the aid as an interest-free loan, an idea even President Trump has disappointingly suggested. We are astounded that the titular heads of the GOP—Trump and Johnson—who met at Mar-a-Lago on Friday would even propose something so unrealistic. Do Americans believe that Ukraine will ever repay the loan? 

Another controversial idea Johnson floated was to confiscate  Russian assets to fund Ukraine. We see several problems with this proposal, some so severe that America's global standing could be directly affected.

  1. Confiscating assets without legal justification would be a violation of international law and could provoke a strong response from Russia. 
  2. Many Russian assets are held in third-party countries, and it would be difficult to determine which can be confiscated. Such action could harm the interests of these third-party countries with Russia and other countries and provoke a diplomatic backlash. 
  3. Russia is an export powerhouse and could retaliate by stopping its grain, oil, fertilizer, and chemicals exports to countries that participate in the asset confiscation initiative. This would create havoc in the world's supply chain and destabilize the international financial system. 
  4. There is also the risk that confiscation could provoke military action from Russia beyond Ukraine's borders, escalating the conflict and undermining efforts to resolve the crisis peacefully. 
  5. Confiscating a sovereign state's assets involves moral and ethical issues. Global South countries could see the action as aggression, and the reputational harm to perpetrator countries could be sizable.
  6. The U.S. dollar could continue to lose its shine as the world's international reserve currency if U.S. foreign policy is seen to weaponize the dollar even more through the sanctions regime.

Besides, the funding mechanism is not the issue here. The larger question is whether America should fund Ukraine at all and do anything that would help prolong the war. Our latest TIPP poll shows that most Americans want the war to end.

We fail to understand why our leaders do not appreciate that the Russia-Ukraine war has created havoc worldwide and must stop. Over 500,000 people have died, over 12 million Ukrainians have been displaced, large parts of Europe have been impoverished, the Russia-China-Iran-North Korea axis has strengthened, and America's global reputation has significantly fallen, even more now, given the way war in the Middle East is escalating. 

For Americans who oppose funding Ukraine, there are still a few procedural minefields ahead that could sink Johnson's proposal. The language in the Senate and the House should be identical for any legislation to become law that the President can sign. 

If Johnson puts forward House legislation to provide aid to Ukraine with policy riders attached, such as confiscating Russian assets or disbursing the funds as loans, ideas that are anathema to Democrats who want a "clean" funding bill, the Democratic party could defeat the bill by teaming up with House conservatives who oppose Ukraine funding. Even if it passed the House, such a bill would die on arrival in the Schumer-controlled Senate.

Fearing such a loss, another option that Johnson has floated is to take up the already-passed Senate behemoth of a bill that includes $95.3 billion of deficit spending. It provides $60 billion for Ukraine, $14 billion in security assistance for Israel, $9.2 billion in humanitarian aid to Gaza, and $4.8 billion to support regional partners in the Indo-Pacific region. But many Democrats in the House who support funding Ukraine are repelled by the idea of sending military aid to Israel six months into a war that Tel Aviv has prosecuted in Gaza. If House conservatives team up with sufficient members of the Democratic Left, they could defeat the Senate measure in the House. 

It is astonishing how much of our tax dollars are consuming our legislators' time and energy to support a foreign nation when America is facing a $34.5 trillion debt bill. America would be far better off if our leaders instead took time to address serious problems our country faces - such as an economy teetering on stagflation, rampant illegal immigration, and unlivable conditions in our big cities. 

Sadly, Speaker Johnson, too, has caved and joined the Beltway crowd to promote forever wars in foreign nations.


Independents, Third-Party Candidates Loom As Election Deciders In 2024: I&I/TIPP Poll

Bidenflation Soars To 18.8%, Squeezing Americans

The Biden Administration's Big Lie: "Putin Is Not Going To Stop At Ukraine"

edia Steps Up Americans' Guilt Trip About Ukraine

Support Independent Journalism: Upgrade to a paid subscription or donate now to help tippinsights thrive as a reader-supported publication. Contact us to discuss your research/polling needs.
Letters to editor email: