Feb 29, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House Republican prepares "discharge petition" on Ukraine aid

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, wearing a dark gray jacket, white shirt and clear glasses, tying a light blue tie as he walks through statuary hall in the U.S. Capitol.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Getty Images.

A pro-Ukraine House Republican is preparing an effort to go around House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) to get aid to Ukraine passed.

Why it matters: It's a rare break with House GOP leadership, which has resisted holding a Ukraine aid vote due to strong opposition from the right.

  • "We have to get something done," said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, who is leading the push.
  • "It's existential, it's time sensitive. Whether that's our product or somebody else's, we've just got to get the money out the door to them," he said.

What's happening: Fitzpatrick told reporters he is preparing what is known as a discharge petition, which can force a House vote if it gets 218 signatures.

  • Such a petition would therefore require support from a handful of Republicans, assuming it gets signatures from most House Democrats.
  • The maneuver also requires a certain amount of time – 30 days in which the House is in session – before it can be forced to the floor.

What he's saying: Fitzpatrick said the petition will be ready for signatures by early March and signaled he expects it to garner some Republican signatures.

  • Asked about the depth of Republican support, he told reporters, "more than you think ... a lot of people who know it's the right thing to do."
  • One House Republican, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Axios they will sign on "if [there's] no other progress."
  • But Fitzpatrick also stressed that the discharge petition mainly serves to "apply a pressure point to get something done soon."

The backdrop: Fitzpatrick and other pro-Ukraine Republicans have faced growing pressure to break with their party on the issue.

  • A group called Republicans for Ukraine ran ads in the districts of 10 pro-Ukraine House Republicans last week urging them to sign onto a discharge petition.
  • On Thursday, Rep. Wiley Nickel (D-N.C.) sent each House office a flag reading "House Republicans surrendered Ukraine to Russia."

What's next: Fitzpatrick said he hasn't decided what version of Ukraine aid the discharge petition would try to bring to the floor.

  • The Senate passed a $95 billion bill with aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, but Johnson made clear he wouldn't give it a vote on the House floor.
  • Fitzpatrick said of the Senate bill: "I don't know if we would get to 218 ... the lack of border security is a challenge for a lot of [Republicans]."
  • Fitzpatrick, along with three fellow Republicans and four Democrats, has introduced a $66 billion bill that includes pared-down military assistance to Ukraine, aid to Israel and Taiwan and border policy changes.
Go deeper