The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion A MAGA-created nightmare is unfolding for Ukraine

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) at the White House on Wednesday. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)
5 min

Contrary to the positivity expressed after Wednesday’s White House meeting, prospects for passing any deal on immigration policy and Ukraine aid in the Republican-led House are near zero this month and even slimmer in the months to come. From the beginning, far-right House Republicans have intended to kill the aid by linking it to immigration reform — and the White House and Senate fell into the MAGA trap.

The fate of both efforts falls on one man, House Speaker Mike Johnson, who is beholden to his right wing and to former president Donald Trump. It is increasingly evident that Johnson (R-La.) has no actual plan or political incentive to compromise on either issue. The result is a legislative mess that will likely result in no Ukraine funding coming out of Congress this month or perhaps ever. U.S. support for Ukraine could dry up — a nightmare scenario for Ukraine and for U.S. strategy in Europe.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters after the two-hour White House session that he was “more optimistic than ever before” that Senate negotiators were close to a deal. The envisioned legislation would provide about $60 billion in Ukraine-related funding as well as billions more for the border, replenishing U.S. weapons stocks, European security, Israel and the Indo-Pacific. But such optimism ignores the dynamics inside the House Republican conference, where Trump’s allies are already working to kill the deal before it can take solid form.

Johnson’s mixed messages after the meeting were a giveaway. On Wednesday afternoon, he called the White House meeting “productive,” and said there was “some consensus” on how to get a deal done. But hours later, he said on Fox News that he is closely consulting with Trump, who is actively campaigning against any compromise.