Ukraine loan proposal gains traction in GOP - Politico

U.S. House speaker Mike Johnson told GOP colleagues to put the loan proposal together: packaging at least some of it as a loan
U.S. House speaker Mike Johnson told GOP colleagues to put the loan proposal together: packaging at least some of it as a loan

Congressional Republicans are getting serious about one potential solution to the monthslong fight over Ukraine aid as U.S. House speaker Mike Johnson told his GOP colleagues to put the loan proposal together, Politico reported on March 19.

The loan option is being taken seriously in the House, where Ukraine aid has been stalled for months.

Some of Ukraine’s Republican defenders have taken the idea and shopped it to Johnson. The speaker, according to people familiar with the talks, told them to test the waters with their GOP colleagues and then — if the conference approves — perhaps they’ll pursue it.

Read also: Senate aid bill better suited to Ukraine’s needs — White House

The notion has been floating around for weeks, inspired by former president Donald Trump’s recent statements that all U.S. foreign aid — not just to Ukraine — ought to be loaned, not given outright.

Some Republicans, who are in touch with Trump’s orbit, will try to see if they can get the former president to approve of this idea — or at least, not try to kill it flat out. If so, Republicans could try to chalk up the package as a win-win: support for America’s defense industry and a new precedent for giving foreign assistance as a loan, not a gift, as demanded by their presumptive nominee.

Whether Democrats would go along with the plan is not clear. But Republicans think they’ll eventually buy in.

“Democrats from the White House on down are very keen on Ukraine aid,” one senior House GOP aide said.

“I think they’re willing to take it as it comes.”

Read also: No more ‘emergency’ aid packages for Ukraine, Pentagon says

A senior Democrat told us last night that members of the party want to find a solution for Ukraine, and they’re willing to engage in conversations if it means moving the ball forward.

“Everyone is willing to talk if people are acting in good faith,” the person said.

“The question is: Are they trying to get to some real solution?”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) hinted at the new strategy on March 18, posting online that he floated the prospect of a “no-interest, waivable loan” during a meeting in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Washington announced a new $300 million military support package for Ukraine on March 12, which includes artillery shells and GMLRS munitions for HIMARS rocket artillery. This was the first tranche of U.S. security assistance to Kyiv since late 2023.

The U.S. Congress has yet to approve a $60 billion aid package for Ukraine. The Senate endorsed the corresponding bill on Feb. 13, but House Seaker Mike Johnson remains reluctant to put it to a vote before the House of Representatives, even though the bill would likely secure broad bipartisan support in the chamber.

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