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McConnell calls on Johnson to bring up Ukraine vote

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Mitch McConnell in an interview Tuesday urged Speaker Mike Johnson to allow a vote on Ukraine aid, though the Senate minority leader said he would not be “so presumptuous as to tell him how to do it.”

Hours after the Senate passed a $95 billion foreign aid bill, including $60 billion for Ukraine, McConnell said Johnson can clear up questions about where the House stands by allowing a vote on sending billions to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan — even if it means the House passes something different than the Senate.

“We’ve heard all kinds of rumors about whether the House supports Ukraine or doesn’t. It seems to me that the easy way to solve that would be to vote. And I hope the speaker will find a way to allow the House to work its will on the issue of Ukraine aid and the other parts of the bill as well,” McConnell said.

Given the challenging internal politics for the GOP, as former President Donald Trump and his allies cast doubt on sending more aid to Ukraine, McConnell was careful in the interview to defer the specifics to Johnson. A couple conservatives have threatened to try to strip him of the speakership if he allows a vote on Ukraine aid.

But after taking so much criticism from his own party over the past few weeks, McConnell said he was hopeful that “the majority of the House Democrats and Republicans will do what we did in the Senate.”

“I don’t have any advice on how he does it. That’s why we have conferences,” McConnell said, referring to the typical process for a House-Senate negotiation. “What I do think is appropriate is for the House to be able to work its will on Ukraine, which obviously was the most controversial part of what we did.”

McConnell’s remarks come amid his relentless drive to get the foreign aid package into law before the war turns further against Ukraine. Congress hasn’t sent the allied country a new infusion of cash in 14 months. At the same time, the GOP leader stopped short of demanding Johnson take up the Senate’s product — a reflection that McConnell, facing his own group of conservative rebels in the Senate, understands Johnson has internal political challenges as he navigates a reed-thin House majority.