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Rare bipartisanship nets win for speaker; foreign aid may get OK on weekend

WASHINGTON — With rare bipartisan momentum, the House pushed ahead Friday on a foreign aid package of $95 billion for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and humanitarian support as a robust coalition of lawmakers helped it clear a procedural hurdle to reach final votes this weekend.

Friday’s vote produced a seldom-seen outcome in the typically hyper-partisan House, with Democrats helping Republican Speaker Mike Johnson’s plan advance overwhelmingly 316-94. Final House approval could come this weekend, when the package would be sent to the Senate.

It was a victory for the strategy Johnson set in motion this week after he agonized for two months over the legislation. Still, Johnson has had to spend the past 24 hours making the rounds on conservative media working to salvage support for the wartime funding, particularly for Ukraine as it faces a critical moment battling Russia, but also for his own job as the effort to remove him as speaker grew.

“Ukrainians desperately need lethal aid right now. … We cannot allow Vladimir Putin to roll through another country and take it,” Johnson told the conservative host of The Mark Levin Show about the Russian president’s invasion of Ukraine. “These are very serious matters with global implications.”

Johnson said after the vote that while it wasn’t “perfect legislation,” it was the “best possible product” Republicans can get given their thin majority in one chamber of Congress.

President Joe Biden sent a swift endorsement of the speaker’s plan and, in a rare moment, Donald Trump, the Republican presumed presidential nominee who opposes most overseas aid for Ukraine, has not derailed the speaker’s work.

“The world is watching what the Congress does,” the White House said in a statement. “Passing this legislation would send a powerful message about the strength of American leadership at a pivotal moment.”

In an extremely rare step, the members of the House Rules Committee joined forces late Thursday in a near midnight vote, the four Democrats giving their support on a procedural step, to send the package to the House floor for debate on a 9-3 vote.

Johnson will need to rely on Democrats again Saturday to turn back amendments Republicans have offered that could kill the package. One from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene would reduce spending for Ukraine to zero.

Greene has filed a “motion to vacate” the speaker from office, and it drew another supporter Friday as Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican, co-sponsored the motion. Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, another co-sponsor, suggested that before the House breaks next week others could follow.

Democratic leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries remained noncommittal to helping Johnson keep the speaker’s gavel, though some Democrats have suggested they would be inclined to help defeat the motion to vacate through procedural maneuvers.

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