(April 24)  The overwhelming congressional votes for aid to Taiwan, Israel, and Ukraine show just how out of touch the isolationists and Ukraine skeptics on both ends of the American political spectrum are.

They also show why it was inexcusable for Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) to wait so long to engineer passage of the aid bills. Nonetheless, against the noisy and noisome detractors on the Trumpian semi-Right, Johnson did take a belated stand, one that could mark his emergence as a leader of principle and savvy.

For the record, the individual aid bills were approved in the House by votes of 311-112 for Ukraine, 366-58 for Israel, and 385-34 for Taiwan. The combined legislation passed the Senate 79-18. The opponents were exposed as numerically weak minorities. Elected officials rarely range far from their constituents’ wishes, so this means well over 70% of the members of Congress must be hearing from at least strong pluralities of each of their home jurisdictions that U.S. engagement and support for allies is the right thing to do, not just out of altruism but in U.S. interests.

Ukraine flag in Kyiv.

For six months, aid supporters told Johnson he should break up the aid packages and worry about unrelated border security matters separately. For six months, he could either have defied the anti-Ukraine agitators by structuring the aid bills this way or by allowing a discharge petition to advance aid legislation to the House floor without his blessing but also, importantly, without his implicit threats to punish Ukraine supporters. And all the while, Ukraine has been facing an existential threat, and its soldiers and many civilians have been slaughtered, largely because Ukraine lacked the basic ammunition to stop Russian attacks.

Still, far better late than never. Johnson worked with half of his own caucus, and far more in the cases of Israel and Taiwan, and the nearly unanimous Democrats, despite calls for his removal as speaker. By doing the will of national majorities or strong pluralities, against intense pressure, Johnson showed both wisdom and backbone….. [The full column is at this link.]


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