News of the death of Vladimir Putin’s main rival, Alexei Navalny, has spread around the world. Some of the political waves it has made have been felt as distantly as the US, with House Speaker Mike Johnson looking like a coward because of his response to the news. Let’s examine what happened here.

Denouncing The Russian Leader

Johnson led off his speech with a condemnation of Putin’s heavy-handed handling of his rival. He denounced Putin and reiterated that the US would support Ukraine in its defense of the homeland against Russian aggression.

Source: Flickr/Mitya Aleshkovsky

Johnson continued to state that Congress would look at the best possible options to support Ukraine by cutting off Putin’s funding from the West. Yet, based on his actions, Johnson’s words were just so much hot air.

Sticking It To The Aid Bill

The US has allies in several flashpoint locations around the world. Senate wanted to put through a bill that would allow funding for allies such as Ukraine, Taiwan, and Israel, allowing them to put up more than just token resistance against massively larger foes.’

Source: Wikimedia/Office of Speaker Mike Johnson

Over two days, Congress worked on the bill to make it presentable to the Senate, only to have John strike it down at the last moment. He reasoned that the bill didn’t address the current border crisis in the US.

Unable to Make Up Their Mind

While it might be easy to think that if Johnson had gotten a settlement for reduced immigration, he would have allowed aid to be sent to these countries, that’s not at all true. A previous bill saw massive immigration restrictions along the border in exchange for assistance for Israel and Ukraine.

Source: Flickr/Wally Gobetz

Johnson also denied this bill. He followed the party line of many other Republicans even though this bill would allow for the deportation of illegal immigrants by the state. Something many Republicans seem to want to be enshrined into law.

Appealing To The Radicals

Johnson came to the post of House Speaker in 2016 after two other candidates faltered. Since then, he has appealed to the most radical areas of the GOP conference. His priorities seem to be mixed up as well.

Source: Flickr/IowaPolitics

When the Senate passed their aid package, Johnson didn’t bother asking the Republicans to deliver a counter-offer. Instead, he spent all his time holding a second vote for impeachment related to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

What Does The Vote Have To Do With Immigration?

Eagle-eyed observers will realize that this particular vote would affect Homeland Security, which manages the border crossing patrols. Yet his impeachment would have little to no impact on the actual issue of illegal immigration.

Source: Flickr/Jonathan McIntosh

The bill that Johnson tossed out of Congress would have given the state a lot more power to deal with illegal immigration and impose severe penalties on immigrants. It would have played right into the desires of GOP extremists and Trump supporters.

Why Impeach The Homeland Security Secretary Then?

Experts suggest that Johnson’s call for Mayorkas’ impeachment stems from an attempt to appease Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Trump ally from Georgia. She’s coincidentally a heavy opposer of the US funding Ukraine’s self-defense.

Source: Flickr/World Travel and Tourism Council

The Press was naturally inclined to ask the Speaker questions, but he didn’t return the usual way to his office after the impeachment proceedings. Instead, he took an alternative route to avoid reporters, making what he did seem a lot less upstanding and a lot more shady.

Not Serious About His Position

Johnson’s tenure as House Speaker is directly linked to Donald Trump. He was appointed to the position under the Trump administration and is allied with many Trump supporters within the GOP. He refuses to say anything against the former president.

Source: Flickr/William Warby

When a reporter asked him about Trump’s statements to a NATO head of state that he would encourage Russia to do whatever it wanted, Johnson declined to comment. His loyalty to Trump seems to supersede any real love he has for the position or any inclination to serve the US.

Fighting For His Position

Johnson’s dismissiveness in passing aid to Ukraine stems from trying to protect his own skin. Loyalties in Congress are heavily divided, and Marjorie Taylor Greene has already stated that if Ukraine gets any further aid, she will move to see that Johnson vacates the Speaker’s chair.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

This puts Johnson in a precarious position. While he may want to support others in his conference who wish to give aid to Ukraine and other allies, he can’t do it without endangering his own job.

Can Johnson Survive a Vote to Remove Him?

Despite being a huge Trump supporter, the Trump cohort of the GOP will probably vote to have him removed if the question comes up. Similarly, other moderate GOP members may see him as a Trump appointee and want to get him out of the Speaker’s seat.

Source: Wikimedia/Office of Speaker Mike Johnson

If a vote goes out to remove him, he may need to rely on the Democrats to vote “no” or “present” to keep his position as Speaker. Based on the current party line, it’s unlikely he could ever get the Democrats to support him. As such, he has to do what he has to do to retain his position.

Risking The International Order

The GOP’s internal party woes have shown up before when the Tea Party was a significant power in the party. However, back then, there were far fewer flashpoints that could blow up into something that destabilized the world order.

Source: Flickr/Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

The cowardice of the Speaker, who is unwilling to take on his opponents in Congress, may lead to severe fallout. America’s allies are not just crucial to the US but to maintaining Western Enlightenment Values in far-flung areas of the globe. Johnson is a distinct counterpoint to Navalny, who stood up to Putin despite the risk to his life.

A Coward Praising a Hero

When it comes down to it, Johnson is all talk and no action. His statements that highlight Navalny’s death seem to ring hollow as he denies attempt after attempt from the Senate to provide genuine, actionable help to Ukraine.

Source: Flickr/ Aleksey Ruban

Instead, he cowers in a corner, unable to do what needs to be done for fear of losing his position of influence in the House. It’s something that highlights his lack of backbone for what must be done.