U.S. support for Ukraine still is strong. Not as much as it once was but there is still strong support both in the country and in both chambers of Congress. Last year the DOD was forced into various moves to keep assistance to Ukraine flowing but the infuriating and tragic truth is there’s only so much the DOD could do with new financial authorization from Congress. The House of Representatives has proven to be the main stumbling block and since last fall has been blocking aid. If a Speaker refuses to bring a bill to the floor it’s dead in the water. However, House rules do contain a provision to get around an obstinate Speaker. A Discharge Petition, which if enough members sign it take it out of the Speaker’s hands and allows an up or down vote on the floor for a bill. That process is now formally underway in the House.

It’s not something that happens very often, as members of both Parties have been reluctant over time to use this provision in longstanding House rules. Each side has recognized the value in a Speaker of their own Party wielding enormous power. Forcing through a Discharge Petition weakens a given Speaker so the reasoning goes, and the worry is that it’s a legislative “crack in the dam” that could widen into a flow, if not the whole dam (a Speaker’s power to control the agenda) collapsing. So it seldom happens, via a kind of “let’s avoid what could become a Mutually Assured Destruction” tacit agreement.

Sometimes however something HAS to get done. I firmly believe this is one of those times. Now, according to an article from Alternet I read a little while ago the process has started:

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) filed a discharge petition, an effort to circumvent Speaker Johnson’s blockade. If it gets 218 signatures, Johnson would have seven days to put the Senate’s bill on the House floor for a vote. General consensus is the Senate bill would pass the House with a strong bipartisan majority – the hurdle is getting signatures on the discharge petition.

Hours after the discharge petition was opened, it had just 86 signatures. By the end of the day, it had 169 signatures

We aren’t there yet but this is a good start. The magic number is 218 which means even if we get every Democrat (not a sure thing unfortunately) we’ll still need a handful of Republicans to sign on. I’ll talk more about that in a bit. First we need to take a look at why all this is necessary in the first place.

As I said another aid package for Ukraine was proposed last year. It languished on the Hill but as we got into fall GOP demands for something in return, specifically strong (even to some of us draconian) border security legislation had to be part of the deal. So Democrats negotiated and one of the most conservative Senators of all, Republican James Lankford of Oklahoma got damned near everything the GOP wanted. He called it the strongest border security legislation ever and even warned his colleagues they’d better pass it. To paraphrase him: This is the best deal we’ve ever gotten or could hope to get and if we don’t pass it we’ll wind up with much less.

An extra dose of urgency was added due to Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel which caused the final legislation to include aid not just for Ukraine (by far the largest recipient) and Taiwan/the Pacific but aid for Israel too. The bill passed the Senate handily. And newly installed House Speaker Mike Johnson declared it dead on arrival. I won’t go into all his anti-Ukraine/pro Putin (to please Trump) crap prior to becoming Speaker. All that matters is that as Speaker he could simply refuse to allow a vote on the Senate bill. And there are plenty in the GOP caucus who would have voted for it without blinking had Johnson immediately allowed a vote.

Yes, the border and especially Trump’s Don’t pass a border bill because I want chaos I can use to hammer Biden with during the campaign crap. But for Johnson (not just him but he’s the one that matters) there’s that If Putin wants Ukraine let him have it, no skin off my a$$ mentality. A day after the Senate voted for the package that included Ukraine aid Johnson said he wouldn’t be “rushed” into anything:

“The Republican-led House will not be jammed or forced into passing a foreign aid bill,” Johnson later said before the cameras, adding that the Senate bill “does noting to secure our own border.” Johnson and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, at the urging of Donald Trump, had just killed a massive, bipartisan, and long-awaited border bill that included funding for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.

But reports in the U.S. and even abroad made clear Johnson was opposed to the bill and had “no intention” of allowing it to pass.

Frankly, while a small amount of lip service has been paid to the matter Johnson’s stance hasn’t changed. As I said, he had a history of voting against Ukraine aid even before becoming Speaker so we shouldn’t be surprised he’s become the primary obstacle. Especially with Trump backing his move.

Here on Politizoom many, including me have argued for someone to initiate a Discharge Petition. Plenty of others on other sites and in the chattering class of pundits and political consultants (including people with military and foreign affairs/diplomatic credentials) have done so as well. It would take too long to explain the tactical situation that prevented Ukraine’s long-awaited counter-offensive to yield a quick breakthrough last summer and early fall. Progress has been slow, and brutal but it WAS being made. Then, because they had to start literally rationing artillery rounds and ammunition it stalled. Russia has even made a bit of progress itself!  And STILL Johnson is doing Trump’s/Putin’s bidding.

Enough is f**king enough and finally, and long overdue a Discharge Petition has been initiated. 169 isn’t 218 but in a single day it’s a damned good start. And thankfully leader Jeffries is pushing fellow Democrats to get on board yesterday:

“In a closed-door meeting,” NBC News’ Julie Tsirkin reported, “Dem Leader Jeffries urged ‘all Democrats’ to sign on to a discharge petition filed by Jim McGovern that would force a vote on the Senate-passed Israel, Ukraine & Taiwan bill, per sources.”

“I urge everyone to sign it as a statement of our perspective that the only way forward is the bipartisan, comprehensive national security bill they sent over from the Senate. And that deserves an up-or-down vote,” Leader Jeffries said, Tsirkin added.

I say about freaking time! I don’t like criticizing him but Jeffries should have had a member do this long ago. Frankly ever since Russia retook Aviidka from Ukraine the situation has cried out for this.  Jeffries and the entire Party including those who are mad at Israel (I sure as hell am and have been quite critical of them long before their callousness towards innocent civilians in Gaza as they’ve fought Hamas) need to sign on. Biden it ramping up pressure and doing much more than he’s being given credit for from too many Democrats and if Israel tries to prevent us from building a temporary pier to get major aid into Gaza they will learn the hard way a stunt like their attack on the Liberty back in the 1960s won’t be tolerated.

As for the GOP (I said I’d get to them) there are an awful lot of nervous ones these days. They bit the bullet and and went along with killing the bill over the border stuff as Trump wanted them to do. However, continuing to blindly obey Trump will cost at least fifteen or so to lose their seats in November and it’s not a stretch to say that number is at least two dozen. Perhaps even well up into thirty or so Republicans. Forget having to be in the minority. They can’t be in the minority of a caucus they aren’t part of because they’re no longer Congress Critters!

So, I’m pretty sure we can get at least ten and perhaps closer to twenty GOPers to sign on to this Discharge Petition. In a way, while Johnson still objects in principle he might even quietly promise to shield them from reprisals from the crazies. And get Jeffries to say a nice thing or two about them as well. If the package comes up for a vote due to a Discharge Petition MTG’s threat to introduce a motion to Vacate the Chair won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on. He can point to the Discharge Petition and say he did all he could but it was out of his hands!

Well, as I said we aren’t there yet. So contact your Representatives (and other’s too like I will be doing) to make sure they sign this. And then vote to approve that Senate bill. Johnson can still hold it, but only for seven days. That’s seven days too long and will cost lives of Ukrainians but just knowing help is coming will provide a huge boost in morale for their troops, and hope for their civilians. And also let NATO and Europe know the United States’ commitment to protecting freedom in the world isn’t dead no matter how much Trump tries to kill it.

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    • Me too, it shows there ARE ways at times to circumvent the idiots that drag their feet for the delight of an incompetent’s mental fog …

      Ukraine has lost too many citizens and active soldiers already … Our commitment to the Ukraine is on an outstanding list of care giver’s actions in NATO … This painful situation, caused by non-other than piss-ass Trump has to be stopped, I’m thinking the huge money to be fined and paid by the numb-nuts, is NOT GOING to come from his usual donors and so he has no choice but to serve basically the rest of his life in the big house …



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