Moderate Dem says he would protect Speaker Johnson over Ukraine aid, government funding

Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) said he would protect Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-La.) gavel as long as he backs legislation to provide more aid to Ukraine and ensures the government remains open.

Golden promised to stave off a motion to vacate if Johnson moves to bring the modified $66.32 billion foreign aid package — which includes border provisions — to the House floor for a vote.

“Put this bill on the floor or something like it that addresses the border, Ukraine, Israel and can pass the Senate and become law because this is so important, and keep our government open and funded,” Golden said Friday during on a Zoom call organized by “No Labels” and attended by hundreds of their supporters.

“I’ll vote to protect speaker Mike Johnson,” he added.

The legislation, called the Defending Borders, Defending Democracies Act, was introduced last week, after the bipartisan Senate border bill collapsed and Johnson refused to bring a separate Ukraine aid bill to a vote.

The House bill contains $47 billion for Ukraine, $10 billion for Israel, $5 billion for the Indo-Pacific and $2 billion to support U.S. Central Command operations. It would also bring resinstate former President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” immigration policy for one year and does not include humanitarian aid for Gaza.

The bill was negotiated by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) who also spoke on Friday’s call.

Golden and Fitzpatrick urged colleagues to back the modified package in a “Dear Colleague” letter sent on Sunday.

Following the call, Golden’s office confirmed his pledge to protect Johnson if he moves the bill closer to passage and is able to keep the government funded.

“If Speaker Johnson takes action in the House to secure the border, provide urgently needed aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, and pass a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown — and does so in a manner that can pass the U.S. Senate — then Congressman Golden would oppose a motion to vacate,” Golden’s office communications director Mario Moretto said in a statement.

His vow comes after Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), circulated a resolution Tuesday that would make it tougher for the House GOP to oust Johnson from his leadership position. But, that resolution hinges on foreign aid receiving a vote in the lower chamber.

In early February, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) — the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee — made a prediction that members of his party would slide in and protect the Speaker if a motion to vacate was triggered over Ukraine aid.

Anxiety over a potential motion comes just over four months since former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was ousted in a historic vote. His removal from leadership came after the House averted a shutdown in 2023 by putting a stopgap measure on the floor that as supported by Democrats— a move that infuriated hardline conservatives.

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