Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, trying to simultaneously do the right thing, not trigger former President/current GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, and keep Congressional howler monkey Marjorie Taylor Greene from formally moving to remove him as Speaker (a "motion to vacate"), announced on April 15 his intent to split the Senate foreign aid package into four separate bills.

Johnson proposes a bill for aid to Israel and is silent about whether that will include humanitarian aid for Gaza. A separate bill would provide aid to Ukraine. The remaining two bills would be for aid to Taiwan and a bill comprised of several measures, including seizure of Russian assets and banning TikTok. Border security measures could be added to this last mop-up bill.

There are many obstacles to this legislative package. First is time. Johnson says he will honor the 72-hour rule allowing introduced legislation to be read before going for a vote. The earliest legislation could be drafted is the 16th. Problem is, Congress is supposed to recess on the 18th for a week.

(Until the 15th the agenda was tied up with Appliance Week…where such gripping legislation as the Hands Off Our Home Appliances Act, Liberty in Laundry Act, Clothes Dryers Reliability Act, Refrigerator Freedom Act, Affordable Air Conditioning Act, and Stop Unaffordable Dishwasher Standards Act stood ready for action. I am not making this up. There was so much ridicule over Appliance Week that the caucus hastily scrapped the plan.)

Then, there is the howler monkey caucus on the right and progressives on the left. The former group bizarrely doesn't want aid for Ukraine. The latter group doesn't want aid for Israel. Meanwhile, House Democrats are collecting signatures on a discharge petition that would trigger a floor vote without leadership approval on the original Senate bill where all the aid is combined. As of this writing, it has 195 signatures, one of them Republican.

And the rest of the world watches. In Southwest Asia, where Iran launched a massive but largely failed missile and drone strike on Israel, regional powers are being forced to choose sides. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates shared intelligence with Israel and its allies, including the U.S., that assisted with the hugely successful defensive response that resulted in most of the incoming strike being destroyed in air. Yet the Saudis and Emiratis denied the U.S. and Israel the use of their airspace to intercept missiles and drones.

The Gaza war has thrown the entire region into turmoil; this is complicated by a perception among the Gulf states that the U.S. has forsaken many of its previous defense guarantees over the past decade. This makes those nations more hesitant to openly support U.S. interests and slows progress in improvement of relationships with Israel. Both of these developments are beneficial to Iran.

Last year, China brokered a deal to re-establish relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It's the Saudis who are offering investments in Iran to deter wider involvement in the Gaza war. When the U.S. had a preeminent role in the defense of the Gulf states, Iran remained an isolated rogue state with little influence. Now China has a seat at the table and is cutting deals. This is not beneficial to U.S. interests and it imperils Israel.

The lack of resolve of the last three administrations with regard to Iran has eroded our influence in Southwest Asia and our over-cautious response to the Iran-backed Houthi attacks in the Red Sea haven't helped. There should be no reason why the U.S. cannot wipe the Houthis off the map. The Gulf States know this. The fact that the Houthis still have the capacity to threaten commerce may well indicate that Iran is becoming as strong a superpower in the region as the U.S. The Gulf States cannot ignore this.

Iran's missile and drone attack on Israel involved Russian weapons. Russia remains a threat to global security outside Eastern Europe. Yet the U.S. fails month after month to pass a meaningful aid package to halt Russian advances in Ukraine.

Sadly, this also-ran status in Southwest Asia is one our country will have to become accustomed to for the next few years. Former UN Ambassador and National Security Advisory John Bolton slammed both Trump and Biden on the Sunday talk shows immediately following the Iranian attack.

"He doesn't have any idea what to do in the Middle East in this situation," Bolton said of Trump, who had suggested that the attack wouldn't have happened if he were President. "He's delusional."

He doesn't pull any punches for Biden either. "Sadly, Iran isn't worried about the United States. They don't see Biden as having the spine to cross Iran's red line of not attacking Israel directly. To the extent that Biden and others urge no retaliation, which I think was shameful, it appears the Israelis are going to reject that. The only question is how strong it's going to be," Bolton posted on X.

I don't always agree with Bolton, who I think would support paving Tehran at this point, but he speaks to the frightening truth of the 2024 election. "This is a measure of two candidates, neither one of whom is qualified at a point of enormous threat, not just to Israel's national security — let's be clear, what's happening in the Middle East is a threat to American national security."

I never expected to live in a world where shooting wars involving Russia and Iran would be happening at the same time, with China negotiating back door deals along the way. I really never expected to live in an America where our Congress could not get out of its own way long enough to act on any of this.

Merritt Hamilton Allen is a PR executive and former Navy officer. She appeared regularly as a panelist on NM PBS and is a frequent guest on News Radio KKOB. A Republican, she lives amicably with her Democratic husband north of I-40 where they run one head of dog, and two of cat. She can be reached at news.ind.merritt@gmail.com .

Content on the Beat

WARNING: All articles and photos with a byline or photo credit are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

Disclaimer: If you find errors in articles not written by the Beat team but sent to us from other content providers, please contact the writer, not the Beat. For example, obituaries are always provided by the funeral home or a family member. We can fix errors, but please give details on where the error is so we can find it. News releases from government and non-profit entities are posted generally without change, except for legal notices, which incur a small charge.

NOTE: If an article does not have a byline, it was written by someone not affiliated with the Beat and then sent to the Beat for posting.

Images: We have received complaints about large images blocking parts of other articles. If you encounter this problem, click on the title of the article you want to read and it will take you to that article's page, which shows only that article without any intruders. 

New Columnists: The Beat continues to bring you new columnists. And check out the old faithfuls who continue to provide content.

Newsletter: If you opt in to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option above this to the right, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Submitting to the Beat

Those new to providing news releases to the Beat are asked to please check out submission guidelines at https://www.grantcountybeat.com/about/submissions. They are for your information to make life easier on the readers, as well as for the editor.

Advertising: Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ads on the Beat.

Classifieds: We have changed Classifieds to a simpler option. Check periodically to see if any new ones have popped up. Send your information to editor@grantcountybeat.com and we will post it as soon as we can. Instructions and prices are on the page.

Editor's Notes

It has come to this editor's attention that people are sending information to the Grant County Beat Facebook page. Please be aware that the editor does not regularly monitor the page. If you have items you want to send to the editor, please send them to editor@grantcountybeat.com. Thanks!

Here for YOU: Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News. Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—www.grantcountybeat.com

Feel free to notify editor@grantcountybeat.com if you notice any technical problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.  The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  

Compliance: Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat readership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised.