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Ron Johnson supports Biden admin strikes in Yemen

Sen. Johnson also talked funding for Ukraine and securing the US southern border

Ron Johnson speaks with his hands up at an election party
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., speaks to his supporters in the early morning hours at an election night party in Neenah, Wis., on Nov. 9, 2022. Mike Roemer/AP Photo

Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson says he supports U.S. airstrikes against Houthi targets in Yemen. 

During an appearance on WPR’s The Morning Show Friday, Johnson said the attacks against international cargo ships and U.S. warships in the Red Sea could not be allowed to stand.

“We have to respond” Johnson said.

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The U.S., United Kingdom and other allies began retaliatory strikes a week ago after two months of Houthi attacks on ships they claim were heading to or from Israeli ports. 

The strikes reportedly continued as recently as Wednesday, when the U.S. put the Houthis back on its list of specially designated global terrorists.

“We have to maintain the freedom of the seas,” Johnson said. 

“That is why we have a Navy, primarily, is to maintain free navigation. And obviously in the Mideast, navigation is extremely important,” Johnson continued. “We need to do it with coalition partners, and we are. It’s probably too little, probably too late.”

Johnson blamed President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama for “coddling” Iran and making the Middle East more dangerous. 

“Between the two administrations, they’ve literally funneled hundreds of billions of dollars into the coffers of Iran and the ayatollahs that then is spent on their surrogates, the Houthis and Hezbollah and Hamas,” Johnson said. 

Johnson defends vote against short-term bill to avert government shutdown

Johnson also defended his vote against a short-term bill to avert a partial government shutdown Thursday, saying he took the vote because he favors a bill for long-term government funding.

“This would be the third extension, which is why I voted against it,” he said. “I’m concerned that we’re gonna just keep fritting away time here and not really come to an agreement before this extension runs out.”

The U.S. Senate passed a funding extension Thursday on a 77-18 vote, a day before funding would have expired. The deal will keep some agencies open until March 1 and the rest of the government open through March 8.

“I’m wanting to restore a functioning budget and appropriation process for the next fiscal year,” Johnson said. “By the time we actually get something done, we’ll probably be halfway through the current fiscal year. This is grotesque in terms of the level of dysfunction.”

In addition to Johnson, the rest of Wisconsin’s Republican congressional delegation also voted against the bill.

Funding for Ukraine and the US southern border 

Republicans have said they want concessions from the Biden administration on securing the southern U.S. border in exchange for continued support for Ukraine. Johnson reiterated that position Friday. 

“I have said publicly, I would not only vote, but I’d promote a bill that would fund Ukraine if the funding was made contingent on benchmarks being met in terms of actually securing the border,” Johnson said. “That apparently was taken off the table.”

The White House held a meeting with congressional leaders Wednesday about securing a deal for funding Ukraine and implementing restrictions on the southern border. 

Johnson said any funding to aid Ukraine should be aimed at finding a negotiated settlement to end the two-year war. 

“Right now, we’re engaged in a bloody stalemate, and the only way this thing ends is in a negotiated settlement,” Johnson said. 

“Any aid we provide to Ukraine should really be focused on, you know, asymmetrical weapons, showing Vladimir Putin that he’s going to be…stuck in a long guerilla-type warfare like he was in Afghanistan and forced him to the negotiating table,” he said.