Jeffries: Senate Ukraine bill is ‘only way forward’

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said Friday that a Senate-passed foreign aid package is the “only” path forward as Congress scrambles to break the months-long impasse over new military funding for Ukraine.

“The only way forward with respect to meeting the national security needs of the American people is for House Republicans to put the bipartisan, national security, comprehensive bill sent over from the Senate on the floor for an up or down vote,” Jeffries told reporters in the Capitol.

While the Senate passed its $95 billion foreign aid package last month with help from 22 Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House conservatives have rejected the bill outright, and House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has refused to bring it to the floor.

The resistance has been fueled by the staunch opposition of former President Trump, who has attacked President Biden relentlessly over the border crisis and doesn’t want to give the president a major victory ahead of November’s elections.

Amid the long stalemate, some House Republicans have floated changes to the Senate bill, including a proposal — championed by Trump — to provide the Ukraine aid as a loan, rather than a grant.

Another group of bipartisan lawmakers is floating a broader package combining the foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan with tougher security measures at the U.S. border. That group, led by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), is eyeing a long-shot procedural move to force the bill to the floor with a discharge petition.

Fitzpatrick said this week that he’s working with Johnson’s office — not against it — as he seeks that vote, calling the petition a “pressure point” to ensure that Ukraine receives more help this year.

“If the House cannot come to a consensus on a bill to be put on the floor, the alternative can’t be that Ukraine fails and our border remains open,” he told reporters in the Capitol.

While a handful of Democrats have endorsed that package, Democratic leaders have suggested it doesn’t have a chance to pass through the Senate. They also argue that Ukraine, which is facing shortages of ammunition, simply doesn’t have the time for that bicameral ping-pong game to play out.

In his State of the Union address Thursday night, Biden implored House Republicans to resist Trump’s influence and move the Senate bill to his desk.

“History is watching,” Biden said. “If the United States walks away, it will put Ukraine at risk. Europe is at risk. The free world will be at risk, emboldening others to do what they wish to do us harm.”

It’s a message that Jeffries amplified on Friday, predicting the Senate bill would get upwards of 300 votes — if it can get to the floor.

“We need an up or down vote,” he said. “It’s time for the House Republicans to support the national security interests of the American people and break from the pro-Putin MAGA extremists in their party.”

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