Apr 5, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Republicans to face pro-Ukraine deluge on return to D.C.

A bus stop with a large billboard reading "DON'T LET PUTIN WIN."

Photo: Republicans for Ukraine.

Republican lawmakers returning to D.C. next week will be hounded at every turn with reminders of the pressure they face to pass aid for Ukraine, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has signaled that the coming weeks will be a make-or-break period on Ukraine and other foreign aid funding.

Driving the news: Pro-Ukraine conservative group Republicans for Ukraine is launching a six-figure billboard campaign, according to plans first shared with Axios.

  • The mobile billboards highlight pro-Ukraine Republican voters with the message: "We're Republicans. We support Ukraine. Don't let Putin win."
  • The billboards will be stationed at Reagan National Airport as lawmakers fly into D.C. on April 7 and 8, as well as at bus stops and circling the Capitol.

What they're saying: "Most House Republicans know that helping Ukraine is the right thing to do, but they've chosen to stay silent and ignore the problem," said Republicans for Ukraine spokesperson Gunner Ramer.

  • "That means further loss of life in Ukraine and more leeway for Putin to act with impunity, which emboldens America's adversaries like China, Iran, and North Korea."

The backdrop: The group, which keeps a report card tracking House Republicans' votes and statements on Ukraine, has run several ad campaigns pressing Republicans to support Ukraine aid.

  • In February it ran ads in the districts of 10 pro-Ukraine House Republicans urging them to sign onto Democrats' discharge petition to force a vote on the Senate's $95 billion Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan aid package.

Zoom out: Johnson has said that he plans to have the House vote on both Ukraine and Israel aid in some form when the House returns.

  • He has floated several ideas aimed at making Ukraine aid more palatable to Republicans, such as structuring it as a loan and attaching legislation to reverse the Biden administration's pause on liquefied natural gas exports.

By the numbers: Any Ukraine aid package will almost certainly need the support of most House Democrats and a sizable chunk of Republicans.

  • A sign of withering GOP support for Ukraine: 104 House Republicans voted in September to quash $300 million in aid to Ukraine, with 117 voting to keep the funding.
  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has gone so far as to threaten a vote to remove Johnson should he hold a vote on Ukraine aid.
  • NBC polling in November found that 55% of voters support sending more aid to Ukraine, including 35% of Republicans — though an AP poll in February found that just 14% of Republicans believe the U.S. is sending too little aid to Ukraine.
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