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House to consider foreign aid while Senate trial on Mayorkas is set to start

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In Washington, D.C., House Speaker Mike Johnson is signaling that he is ready to move forward with aid for Israel and Ukraine.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Divisions, though, among House Republicans have stalled the foreign aid package for months even though it's already passed the Senate. But following Iran's attack on Israel over the weekend, there's increased pressure on Congress to act.

MARTIN: So here to tell us more about all this is NPR congressional correspondent Deirdre Walsh. Deirdre, good morning to you.

DEIRDRE WALSH, BYLINE: Good morning, Michel.

MARTIN: So how is the speaker hoping to finally get this foreign aid package through the House?

WALSH: Well, he's not allowing a vote on the Senate package. Instead, he came up with a way to get around his own party's internal politics. Instead of one vote on that $95 billion package, the speaker's breaking it up into four separate pieces - aid to Israel, aid to Ukraine, security assistance for Taiwan and another piece that wasn't in the Senate package, a national security bill that is going to include several proposals, including a bill the House already passed to force the sale of TikTok or face a ban in the U.S. The speaker said addressing all of these issues was a priority for him.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MIKE JOHNSON: We have terrorists and tyrants and terrible leaders around the world like Putin and Xi and in Iran. And they're watching to see if America will stand up for its allies and our own interests around the globe. And we will.

MARTIN: So why do it this way?

WALSH: Well, Johnson is trying to thread the needle. House Republicans are really united on approving additional aid for Israel. But on the issue of Ukraine, they're really split down the middle. Conservatives strongly oppose any more money for Ukraine. The speaker argued splitting these issues up allows each member to vote on each topic separately and vote their conscience.

MARTIN: Does he still face the threat of losing his job if he moves forward with these four bills, however they're packaged, just as the former speaker Kevin McCarthy was removed with just a handful of votes from conservatives?

WALSH: He does. That threat is still out there from Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene. She's one of the biggest opponents for approving any more aid for Ukraine. She's already introduced a resolution to oust the speaker over this issue and others. She hasn't said whether she's going to force that vote. The speaker really downplayed that factor last night, said he's not thinking about it. The bills are expected to be released later today, and the speaker said he's aiming to have a House vote on these measures potentially by Friday night.

MARTIN: Does this mean that the Ukraine aid, which is, I guess, the truly controversial part of all this, might actually pass after all these months?

WALSH: You know, it's unclear if this strategy is going to work. The speaker has a really narrow majority. He admitted last night that Ukraine is the most controversial piece of this. He also said they're structuring the assistance to Ukraine as a loan as opposed to straight aid in the Senate bill. That's something that former President Trump has pushed. But there's also a risk to doing it this way. It's unclear if it passes, if it will move as one package or as individual pieces to the Senate. And there's some changes to what the Senate approved back in February. So if it gets through the House, the Senate is going to have to vote again on it.

MARTIN: OK, so before we let you go, the attacks on Israel over the weekend kind of scrambled the House schedule. But there is still another issue on the House's to-do list, sending articles of impeachment against the Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the Senate. What can you tell us about that? What's the plan there?

WALSH: Well, the 11 House impeachment managers are going to deliver the articles to the Senate this afternoon. That starts the process for a trial in the Senate. All 100 senators will be sworn in as jurors on Wednesday, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is expected to move to dismiss or table these charges against Mayorkas. He just needs a simple majority to do that. He's expected to get that. That vote is also expected to happen on Wednesday. That effectively would end the trial.

MARTIN: That is NPR's Deirdre Walsh. Deirdre, thank you.

WALSH: Thanks, Michel.

(SOUNDBITE OF ORIONS BELTE'S "BEAN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michel Martin
Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered and host of the Consider This Saturday podcast, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.
Deirdre Walsh
Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.
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