Congress returns next week eyeing Ukraine aid, Baltimore bridge funds and Mayorkas impeachment


Washington — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, laid out a long list of priorities ahead of lawmakers’ return to Washington next week, ranging from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ impeachment trial to Ukraine aid and funding for the reconstruction of Baltimore’s Key Bridge. 

In a letter to senators on Friday, Schumer said the upper chamber has a “busy agenda” to get through in the coming weeks. Congress has been on recess for two weeks after finally resolving a government funding feud that put other matters on the backburner. 

The majority leader stressed that “bipartisanship and compromise are the only ways to make progress and get things done.” 

But tensions remain high in the House, where a dwindling Republican majority, as well as a possible attempt to oust Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana, complicates the path forward for key priorities. 

Nevertheless, Johnson has made clear his intention to take on an issue that has become among the trickiest to navigate: aid to Ukraine. 

Here’s what’s on the agenda as Congress comes back to Washington.

Mayorkas impeachment heads to the Senate

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies during a hearing on Capitol Hill on Nov. 15, 2023.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies during a hearing on Capitol Hill on Nov. 15, 2023.

Aaron Schwartz/Xinhua via Getty Images


House impeachment managers are set to transmit the article of impeachment against Mayorkas to the Senate on Wednesday, April 10, teeing up a clash over a Senate trial promptly after Congress returns.

House Republicans voted to impeach Mayorkas in February, marking the first time in nearly 150 years that a Cabinet secretary had been impeached. Senators will be sworn in as jurors the day after the articles are presented, according to Schumer. 

“I remind senators that your presence next week is essential,” he wrote. 

Though the Senate is required to convene as a court of impeachment under the chamber’s rules, the Democratic majority is also expected to move to quickly quash the effort, through a motion to dismiss or delay the trial. A move to quickly dismiss the charges would trigger intense criticism from the right.

Addressing aid to Ukraine, other allies in the House

House Speaker Mike Johnson speaks during a Congressional Gold Medal presentation ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on March 21, 2024.
House Speaker Mike Johnson speaks during a Congressional Gold Medal presentation ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on March 21, 2024. 

Alex Wong/Getty Images


Considering funding for Ukraine, and perhaps other U.S. allies, is expected to be among the first orders of business in the House. Johnson has pledged to take on the issue following the funding fight that wrapped before Congress’ recess. 

Although the Senate in February approved a supplemental funding package that included aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, Johnson blocked the legislation from moving forward in the lower chamber, stressing that the House would find its own path forward on the foreign aid. But exactly what that looks like remains to be seen. 

Schumer said Friday he had spoken to Johnson and will continue to put pressure on the House to pass the supplemental package.

“I believe that he understands the threat of further delaying the national security supplemental,” Schumer said, adding that he was confident it would pass the House if Johnson brings it up for a vote.

Some Republicans have advocated for the aid to come in the form of a loan, an idea pitched by former President Donald Trump, which could make it more palatable for conservative holdouts. Johnson has also floated other ideas, like bringing up Ukraine aid in exchange for President Biden reversing a moratorium on natural gas export permitting, or allowing the sale of frozen assets of Russian oligarchs.

“When we return after this work period, we’ll be moving a product, but it’s going to, I think, have some important innovations,” Johnson told Fox News on Sunday. 

Without substantial concessions, Johnson would likely have to rely on Democrats to pass aid to Ukraine, which could put his speakership in jeopardy.

The threat to oust Johnson

Johnson is already facing a threat of a vote to oust him from the speakership over his decision to work with Democrats to fund the government last month, a move that many conservatives opposed. 

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, filed a motion to vacate, teasing a possible vote to oust Johnson. So far, the effort hasn’t gained steam among other House Republicans. But that could change if Johnson moves forward with aid to Ukraine. 

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks to the media on the House steps of the Capitol after filing her motion to vacate targeting Speaker of the House Mike Johnson on Friday, March 22, 2024.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks to the media on the House steps of the Capitol after filing her motion to vacate targeting Speaker of the House Mike Johnson on Friday, March 22, 2024.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images


Johnson and Greene were expected to talk by phone Friday as the congresswoman continued to publicly criticize the GOP leader. In a statement, Johnson said he respects Greene, but they have “honest differences on strategy sometimes.” 

“A shutdown would not have served our party or assist us in our mission of saving the republic by growing our majority, nor will another motion to vacate,” he said. 

Johnson’s predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, became the first speaker to be removed from the post last year. A group of eight House Republicans joined all Democrats to oust McCarthy after a similar government funding dispute. But Democratic leaders have suggested they may come to Johnson’s aid if the opportunity arises. 

There is little appetite for bringing the House to a standstill, especially given the fresh memories of the three-week speaker election that followed McCarthy’s ouster last fall. The dynamic is further complicated by a shrinking GOP majority. Still, Johnson’s next moves will be closely watched, even as Congress takes on other priorities.

Funding to rebuild Baltimore’s Key Bridge

Mr. Biden said in the aftermath of the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore last month that the federal government should pay for the entire cost of its reconstruction, and that he expects Congress to support the effort. But it might not be that simple — or swift.

Schumer noted that quick movement would require “bipartisan cooperation.” 

The wreckage of the Francis Scott Key bridge after it collapsed when a container ship plowed into it.
The wreckage of the Francis Scott Key bridge after it collapsed when a container ship plowed into it.

Jonathan Newton for The Washington Post via Getty Images


At least one Republican lawmaker has already expressed opposition to approving additional funds for the project. Rep. Dan Meuser, a Pennsylvania Republican, told Fox News that it’s “outrageous” that Mr. Biden immediately said that federal funds would go to rebuilding the bridge.  

“The first reaction, in fact the only reaction, just tends to be to spend,” Meuser said. “We just can’t take the easy route all the time and just try to spend the taxpayers’ money.”

The federal government has already released $60 million in emergency relief funding and additional emergency funds are expected to follow. But Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said it’s likely that the executive branch will need Congress to help “top-up” existing funds.

The bridge’s reconstruction is expected to take years and cost billions of dollars.

Addressing other priorities

Lawmakers are also aiming to take on a number of other issues in the near future. Among them is a reauthorization of a key provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which expires on April 19. In the Senate, lawmakers could also move forward with House-passed tax legislation, a long-delayed rail safety bill in response to the derailment in Ohio. The upper chamber may also move forward with cannabis banking legislation or a TikTok bill, after the House approved the measure that could lead to a ban on the video-sharing app in the U.S. last month. 

“In the weeks and months ahead, we have the opportunity to make progress on bipartisan bills that enhance our national security, advance online safety for kids and promote innovation, expand the Child Tax Credit, work on a path forward on TikTok legislation, combat the fentanyl crisis, hold failed bank executives accountable, address rail safety, ensure internet affordability, safeguard cannabis banking, outcompete the Chinese government, lower the cost of prescription drugs like insulin while expanding access to health care, and more,” Schumer wrote in his letter Friday.



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