Moderate Republicans commend Speaker Johnson following foreign aid vote

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul applauded House Speaker Mike Johnson Sunday for bringing foreign aid legislation to his chamber’s floor, characterizing the move as “a profile in courage.”

“I am so proud of the speaker, Mike Johnson,” the Texas Republican, who has been a staunch supporter of passing additional foreign aid, said on ABC’s “This Week.” “He went through a transformation. At the end of the day, a profile in courage is putting the nation above yourself, and that’s what he did. He said, ‘At the end of the day, I’m going to be on the right side of history irrespective of my job.’”

Aid to Israel, Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific escaped months of congressional gridlock Saturday when the House passed a $95 billion foreign aid package in four separate bills, which will be compiled into one amendment and sent to the Senate for a Tuesday vote. The vote to advance the key aid legislation came as bipartisan pressure on Johnson to pass support for allies abroad mounted, while his far-right allies floated an effort to strip him of his gavel.

A small group of hardline Republicans, led by firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, have rallied behind an effort to oust Johnson from House leadership, criticizing the Louisiana Republican for relying on Democrats to pass foreign aid, among other priorities. McCaul, who was with Johnson the night before the foreign aid legislation was released, recounted to CNN that the House leader — a devout Christian — prayed as he grappled with the political consequences of doing “the right thing” by bringing the package to the chamber’s floor.

“We were running out of time — Ukraine is getting ready to fall,” McCaul said Sunday. “He became the man that went from a district in Louisiana to the speaker of the United States to also someone who had to look at the entire world and had to carry the burden of that and make the right decision.”

McCaul contended a majority of House Republicans voted against supplemental aid to Ukraine because the conference “bought into this notion that it’s an either-or proposition” between supporting the US southern border and Ukraine.

“The eyes of the world are watching, and our adversaries are watching, and history is watching — and that’s what I kept telling my colleagues: Do you want to be a Chamberlain or a Churchill?” he questioned, an analogy McCaul has repeatedly employed in debates over continuing to provide aid to Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

Even with Johnson’s victorious passage of these aid bills, the House could be plunged into chaos once again if the far-right wing of his party manages to oust him from the speakership.

Asked if he believes Johnson’s job is in jeopardy following the successful vote, McCaul argued “stock in Mike Johnson has gone way up” and that the speaker has “garnered a lot of respect” from both sides of the aisle.

Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas, who represents a district along the southern border, also on Sunday applauded Johnson’s role in passing the legislation.

“We’re at a point where we’re just trying to govern, and that’s what Mike Johnson has done, governed in an honorable way,” Gonzales told CNN’s Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Gonzales — who voted Saturday to pass aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan — expressed confidence that Johnson will survive the threats to his speakership, saying, “The House is a rough and rowdy place, but Mike Johnson is going to be just fine.”

Former President Donald Trump has voiced strong opposition to Ukraine aid in the past, arguing that the US should not grant foreign aid unless it is a loan and indicating that he would encourage Russian aggression against any NATO member country that doesn’t pay enough. But Trump has not commented publicly about the package the House passed on Saturday and has previously expressed support for Johnson’s speakership.

“What (Trump) wants is for a lifeline to be given to Ukraine,” McCaul contended, “so that when he gets into office … he can then negotiate and save it.”

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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