House Speaker Mike Johnson finally acts

A welcome show of leadership on aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan

By

Editorials

April 19, 2024 - 3:55 PM

House Speaker Mike Johnson is finally allowing — with Democrats' help — a vote on aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/TNS)

Speaker Mike Johnson is teeing up votes in the House on U.S. aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan to take place this weekend, even as Republican critics in the bleachers threaten his job. Mr. Johnson deserves credit for his show of conviction, which represents the best of the GOP in the tradition of Ronald Reagan.

“This is a critical time right now, a critical time on the world stage,” Mr. Johnson told reporters on Wednesday. “I think providing lethal aid to Ukraine right now is critically important. I really do. I really do believe the intel and the briefings that we’ve gotten. I believe Xi [Jinping] and Vladimir Putin and Iran really are an axis of evil. I think they’re in coordination on this. I think that Vladimir Putin would continue to march through Europe if he were allowed.”

And “to put it bluntly,” Mr. Johnson added, “I would rather send bullets to Ukraine than American boys. My son is going to begin in the Naval Academy this fall. This is a live-fire exercise for me, as it is so many American families.”

He is correct about the global nature of the threat. American weakness in Europe increases the odds that U.S. troops will eventually be forced into a fight, either on that continent or elsewhere in the world.

One certainty is that you won’t hear Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene address these substantive points. The Republican malcontents are shouting about supposed betrayal and that Mr. Johnson should focus on the crisis at the southern border.

But they know he’d pass border measures in a heartbeat if he had the votes in the House. The options now are to consign Ukraine to defeat or try to hold the line against Mr. Putin, and the latter is still possible even after months of Washington dithering.

“I’m going to allow an opportunity for every single member of the House to vote their conscience and their will on this,” Mr. Johnson noted. “I think that’s the way this institution is supposed to work,” and the irony is that the House’s rump right flank would agree if he were moving a measure they favor.

“And I’m willing to take personal risk for that,” he said. That risk includes putting his Speakership on the line amid threats from Ms. Greene and Rep. Thomas Massie to try to topple him if he holds votes on these bills. If they do attempt this, we’ll see if Democrats are willing to put country before partisanship and vote down the coup.

Mr. Johnson’s behavior is called leadership, and the GOP would be more popular and better able to govern if more of its members showed such mettle themselves — or had more respect for those who demonstrate it.

Related
March 5, 2022
March 4, 2022
March 2, 2022
August 20, 2020