In the Thick of ItA blog on the U.S.-Russia relationship
Mike Johnson on Russia and Ukraine
After weeks of stalemate, Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson was elected as the new Speaker of the House on Oct. 25, 2023. Johnson, who was elected to Congress in 2016, initially expressed support for Ukraine in the context of Russia's war in Ukraine, stating that the United States “should impose debilitating sanctions on Russia’s economic interests.” However, Johnson has since shown resistance to the provision of aid for Ukraine. For instance, he stated that the U.S. should not provide additional aid “when our own border is in chaos, American mothers are struggling to find baby formula, gas prices are at record highs and American families are struggling to make ends meet, without sufficient oversight over where the money will go.” This stance has earned him an “F” on the GOP Congressional Report Card, both in terms of his voting patterns as well as his anti-Ukraine statements.
Following his election as the Speaker of the House, Johnson said that he is open to talks regarding further aid to Ukraine. While there is bipartisan support for the emergency funds for Israel in the Biden administration’s recent $106 billion aid proposal, the $61 billion portion of aid earmarked for Ukraine faces opposition from Johnson’s party. In fact, more than half of the GOP members of the House of Representatives now oppose new funding for Ukraine, according to the Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, a group of Republican senators introduced a stand-alone bill that would send billions of dollars in aid to Israel but not Ukraine.
So, what is Johnson’s overall stance on issues associated with Russia and Ukraine, and how can we expect that to influence measures such as aid to Ukraine? To provide insights into this question, we combed through Johnson’s website, X (formerly Twitter) account and other resources for the period of 2022 to today. The results of this analysis are presented below, with the information divided between how he has voted and what he has said.
How He’s Voted
GOP Congressional Report Card on where Johnson stands on Ukraine: “F” – very poor.
- Voted in favor of The Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022, which allowed the lending/lease of American defense materiel to Ukraine.
- Voted against the 2022 Ukraine Supplemental Appropriation
- Voted in favor of Amendment 21 to H.R. 2670, the National Defense Authorization Act, which would have stricken $300 million of assistance for Ukraine.
- Voted in favor of Amendment 22 to H.R. 2670, the National Defense Authorization Act, which would have prohibited all security assistance for Ukraine.
- Voted in favor of Amendment 25 to H.R. 2670, the National Defense Authorization Act, which would have removed the extension of lend-lease authority to Ukraine.
- Voted against H.R. 5692: Ukraine Security Assistance and Oversight Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2023.
What He’s Said
- “It is past time for a new approach. We should impose debilitating sanctions on Russia’s economic interests. We should return to robust American energy production to provide greater stability and security here and for our European allies. We should exclude Russia from global commerce and international institutions. Even though the best time to take these actions has passed, we must act decisively.” (Press Release, 02.24.22)
- “[Ukraine’s] President Zelensky presented to us a moving address in a rare joint session of Congress this morning. America stands with Ukraine.” (X, 03.16.22)
- “We should not be sending another $40 billion abroad when our own border is in chaos, American mothers are struggling to find baby formula, gas prices are at record highs and American families are struggling to make ends meet, without sufficient oversight over where the money will go.” (Press Release, 05.14.22)
- “American taxpayers have sent over $100 billion in aid to Ukraine in the last year. They deserve to know if the Ukrainian government is being entirely forthcoming and transparent about the use of this massive sum of taxpayer resources.” (X, 02.23.23)
- Though previously a skeptic of Ukraine aid, Johnson said he is open to talks on Biden’s request for more funding to assist the country’s counter-offensive against Russia. (Bloomberg, 10.25.23)
Olga Kiyan is a student associate with Russia Matters and a graduate student at Harvard University.
The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the individual quoted. Photo is a U.S. government work available in the public domain.