For nearly half a year, the US Congress has failed to pass legislation to send weapons to Ukraine. Speaker Michael Johnson continues to be a steadfast roadblock, arguing that aid for Ukraine will not be considered until an immigration deal is passed – something that has failed to gain traction with Congressional Democrats. However, Democrats are not without blame in putting Ukraine in this untenable situation.

Johnson’s rise to Speakership came on the heels of ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy being ousted in a coup led by Donald Trump-supporting “MAGA” Republicans, in response to the late Speaker’s push to hold a vote on Ukrainian funding.

During that vote, Democrats in Congress voted with the MAGA Republicans to eject McCarthy. This set the precedent that even though Democrats agreed with McCarthy’s intention to assist Ukraine, partisan politics, along with the chance to get rid of a Republican Speaker who they despised, was deemed a higher priority than making Ukraine a bipartisan issue.

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Democrats likely could not stomach voting against McCarthy’s dismissal. Had only several Democrats not showed up for the vote, pro-Ukraine McCarthy would most likely still be the Speaker with whom they held stark differences on issues such as immigration.

According to Steve Moore, who worked in Congress for several years, US President Joe Biden “could get Ukraine aid passed this week with an executive order on immigration.”

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Moore noted: “When Biden took office, the number of undocumented migrants crossing the border soared 400 percent to a new annual record, in part due to him rescinding Trump era orders.  Reinstating those would help solve the problem both of the massive surge at the southern border and take border security out of the Ukraine aid debate.

Despite recent hopes that a discharge petition – a mechanism that allows a bill to come to the floor for a vote without the Speaker’s consent – would save the day, such an option was shot down last week by Congressional Democrats who were unwilling to stand up to the hard left of their party and to push through an immigration deal.

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This is even though a recent poll found that “3 in 4 registered voters – 74 percent – support more funding for security along the US border with Mexico. This includes 93 percent of Republicans, 74 percent of independents and 58 percent of Democrats.”

Based on that lesson, Johnson is keen not to upset the hardline Trump supporters in Congress. This is why Congressional Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries could, if Ukraine were a top priority, assure Johnson that Democrats would not side with the MAGA Republicans to fire Johnson, should MAGA try to do to Johnson as they did to McCarthy, for having brought aid to Ukraine to a vote.

Strategically, even if Johnson were to decline the Democrats’ offer of job security in exchange for a vote on Ukraine, the top Republican’s stubbornness could well play out favorably for Democrats this election year.

Only 13 percent of Americans are satisfied with the performance of Congress, versus 58 percent who wish to see further aid for Ukraine. Fighting for a bipartisan solution on an issue that most voters support, would allow Democrats to paint themselves as being “the grown-ups in the room” willing to move beyond the current political divides.

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Outside of Congress, there is also wiggle room for Democrats on how they could help Ukraine, today, to win.

The US is a co-signee on the international treaty against the use of cluster weapons, which is why Biden attracted criticism when he earlier sent these types of weapons to Ukraine. Since it has been done before, nothing prevents Biden from utilizing executive action – not requiring congressional approval – to send more cluster munitions to Ukraine.

There is another opportunity that would simultaneously save US tax dollars and Ukraine. The national budget for destroying expiring weapons is eye-wateringly costly. So, why pay to send US weapons, already set for destruction, to a facility when the President could, instead, designate Ukraine as the “contractor” to dispose of munitions that the US wishes to dispose of?

Without an assenting Congress, the White House’s options are limited, but they are not non-existent. With luck, Democratic leadership will hunt for bold solutions to abet Ukraine, before it is too late to save Ukraine.

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