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Liz Cheney turns up the heat on ‘coward’ House Speaker Mike Johnson

Former Republican conference chair Liz Cheney was on CNN’s State of the Union and tore into Speaker Mike Johnson over the Republican leader’s refusal to put supplemental funding for Ukraine and Israel up for a vote in the House.

It’s widely thought that, with support from many centre-left Democrats and some progressives, that the legislation passed with bipartisan support last week in the Senate would pass the lower chamber. But Speaker Mike Johnson has refused to bring the legislation to the floor, citing the demand from right-wing members of his caucus for border security to be addressed before the House passes further funding for other national security priorities.

That position has infuriated Republicans in the Senate, especially since the same faction of the House GOP is responsible for walking away from a bipartisan deal reached on border security by Senate negotiators.

Ms Cheney implored Mr Johnson to find his “conscience” and bring the legislation up for a vote as Ukraine’s military situation begins to look increasingly desperate. The White House this week directly blamed Congress’s inaction for the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from a city which they had been defending from a Russian advance for months.

Addressing CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, she said: “One thing that’s really important, Jake, for the viewers to recognise and understand is, one man, one man has the power to get that done. And that’s Mike Johnson.”

“Mike Johnson ought to search deep in his conscience, understanding exactly what’s happening, the slaughter that’s happening,” she said. “History will look back on this moment, and ask: What did Mike Johnson do?”

His current resistance to bringing the legislation up for a vote, Ms Cheney continued, was the “path of cowardice and doing what Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin want him to do”.

The rhetoric was strong, but not particularly surprising to hear from Ms Cheney, who is no longer a member of the House of Representatives after being ousted in a primary election due to her opposition to Donald Trump in 2022. She has since remained one of Mr Trump and the right wing’s most vocal critics among the national GOP.

Ms Cheney soared to prominence in that regard after agreeing to serve as vice chair of the select committee formed to investigate the January 6 attack on Congress. Just one other Republican, former Rep Adam Kinzinger, served on the panel after then-Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pulled his support from the investigation in the course of his journey to mend ties with Donald Trump.

The supplemental legislation passed by the Senate for Ukraine and Israel aid is controversial with the wings of both parties. Left-leaning Democrats oppose the legislation’s funding for Israel’s military given the ongoing bloody siege of Gaza. Hardline Republicans, meanwhile, oppose further aid to Ukraine’s military.

President Joe Biden has pledged to sign the legislation if it reaches his desk. The White House has gone to a full-court press against congressional Republicans, seizing on the image of dysfunction and chaos plaguing the lower chamber which has now ousted one Speaker after less than a year in office and ground to a halt due to GOP infighting.

Complicating the issue for Mr Johnson: Despite grumblings about the rule change and its complicity in the downfall of Kevin McCarthy, the speaker of the House can still be ousted by a discharge petition brought by just one member. His party holds just a two-vote majority in the chamber, meaning just a pair of GOP rebels could bring down his speakership with the support of a unified Democratic caucus.


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