Taking to the podium at the White House on Tuesday just hours after the Senate cleared a $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, President Joe Biden urged House Speaker Mike Johnson to put the foreign assistance-packed bill on the floor for a vote “immediately.”

“There's no question if the Senate Bill was put on floor in the House of Representatives – it would pass, it would pass,” Biden said during previously unscheduled remarks at the White House. 

“And the speaker knows that,” the president added. “So I call on the speaker to let the full House speak its mind and not allow a minority of the most extreme voices in the house block this bill even from being voted on.” 

What You Need To Know

  • President Joe Biden on Tuesday urged House Speaker Mike Johnson to put the Senate-passed foreign aid bill on the floor for a vote “immediately" 
  • The bill faces a rocky path in the House, where the speaker has criticized it and some Republicans are strongly opposed to more Ukraine aid
  • The bill includes assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan; a bipartisan border deal was dropped from the bill after GOP pushback 
  • During remarks on Tuesday, Biden went on to call condemn former President Donald Trump's recent comments on NATO as "un-American"

  • In a statement Monday night, Johnson all but ensured passage in the House wouldn’t be smooth, if he allows it to come to the floor at all

  • House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., meanwhile, signaled that he's open to using "every available legislative tool" to get the bill "over the finish line"

The upper chamber passed the bill early Tuesday morning after a small group of Republicans opposed to the $60 billion for Ukraine held the Senate floor through the night. They used the final hours of debate to argue that the U.S. should focus on its own problems before sending more money overseas. 

The bill’s supporters, on the other hand, argue that abandoning Ukraine could embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin and threaten national security across the globe – a point that Biden sought to emphasize on Tuesday, referring to the war as “Putin’s vicious, vicious onslaught.” 

“Supporting this bill is standing up to Putin, opposing it is playing into Putin’s hands,” Biden said. “The stakes in this fight extend far beyond Ukraine.” 

In the end, more than a dozen Republicans voted with almost all Democrats to pass the package 70-29. But it faces a rocky fate in the lower chamber, where – despite Biden’s bet that enough House Democrats and Republicans combined support it to pass – hardline Republicans aligned with former President Donald Trump oppose the legislation.

Trump, the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination who is likely to face Biden in a rematch in 2024, is a critic of support for Ukraine. 

During his remarks on Tuesday, Biden went on to say Trump “sent a dangerous and shocking and, frankly, un-American signal to the world,” when the former president said he would tell Russia “to do whatever the hell they want” to NATO member countries that do not contribute enough to military spending.

“For God’s sake, it's dumb, it's shameful, it's dangerous, it's un-American,” Biden said, calling NATO a “sacred commitment.”

“For Trump, principles never matter, everything is transactional,” Biden continued. 

The bill’s passage through the Senate was a welcome sign for Ukraine amid critical shortages on the battlefield. But by sharply criticizing the package in a statement Monday night, Johnson all but ensured passage in the House wouldn’t be smooth, if he allows it to come to the floor at all. 

In his statement, the Louisiana Republican noted the package lacked border security provisions, calling it “silent on the most pressing issue facing our country.”

Johnson on Tuesday told Punchbowl News that he doesn't presently see a scenario where he puts a bill on the floor, focusing instead on government funding.

"I certainly don’t right now," he told the outlet. "We're dealing with the appropriations process. We have immediate deadlines upon us ... that's where the attention of the House is in this moment."

Johnson's comments received pushback from Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who urged him to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

“We’ve heard all kinds of rumors about whether the House supports Ukraine or doesn’t," McConnell said in an interview with POLITICO. "It seems to me that the easy way to solve that would be to vote. And I hope the speaker will find a way to allow the House to work its will on the issue of Ukraine aid and the other parts of the bill as well."

House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., meanwhile, signaled that he's open to using "every available legislative tool" to get the bill "over the finish line" -- which could include a discharge petition, a motion that would allow the minority party to bypass the speaker if they can garner enough support from Republicans.

"The American people deserve an up or down vote," Jeffries wrote in a letter to colleagues, adding: "The United States Senate has done its job. It is time for the House of Representatives to do the same."

"The GOP originally insisted the request for foreign aid must be tied to substantial border policy changes – setting in motion nearly five months of arduous negotiations between a bipartisan group of senators and the White House. But the final product – an overhaul of border and asylum policies coupled with the foreign aid – was quickly shot down by enough Republicans to kill it. That is when the Senate dropped the border provisions and moved forward with just foreign aid. 

Last week, Biden put the blame for the border deal’s downfall directly on his predecessor after Trump vocally came out against the agreement. 

While the vast majority of House Republicans have opposed the Ukraine aid and are unlikely to cross Trump, a handful of GOP lawmakers have signaled they will push to get it passed.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner, R-Ohio, traveled to Ukraine last week with a bipartisan delegation and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Turner posted on X, formerly Twitter, after the trip that “I reiterated America’s commitment to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia.”

“It's time for House Republicans to do the same thing: pass this bill immediately,” Biden said on Tuesday. “Stand for decency, stand for democracy, stand up to a so-called leader hell bent on weakening America's security.”

“I mean it sincerely, history is watching. History is watching,” he said. 

But Speaker Johnson is in a tough position. A majority of his conference opposes the aid, and he is trying to lead the narrowest of majorities and avoid the fate of his predecessor, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who was ousted in October.

Either way, Tuesday’s vote was a win for both Senate leaders. McConnell has made Ukraine his top priority in recent months, and was resolute in the face of considerable pushback from his own GOP conference.

Speaking directly to his detractors in a floor speech on Sunday, McConnell said that “the eyes of the world” were on the U.S. Senate.

“Will we give those who wish us harm more reason to question our resolve, or will we recommit to exercising American strength?” McConnell asked.

Dollars provided by the legislation would purchase U.S.-made defense equipment, including munitions and air defense systems that authorities say are desperately needed as Russia batters the country. It also includes $8 billion for the government in Kyiv and other assistance.