OPINION: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s Ego is Dooming His Ukraine Aid Maneuver

The Bucks County Republican is pushing a discharge petition on a bill with his own name on it instead of supporting the package that already passed the Senate with a bipartisan supermajority of 70 Senators.

Ukraine’s valiant attempts to stand against Russian leader Vladmir Putin’s unprovoked military assault are not going well in recent months, largely because United States military aid has been stalled in the MAGA-led House of Representatives. For nearly half a year a proposed aid package has languished, as House Speaker “MAGA” Mike Johnson has followed the lead of the most radical members of his caucus who side with Russia in this ongoing attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and autonomy. Accordingly, Speaker Johnson refuses to schedule any pro-Ukraine legislative content for a floor vote.

Meanwhile, in the Democratic-led Senate, a bill that includes aid for Ukraine passed on February 13. That bill, H.R. 815, passed with the support of 70 senators – 22 Republicans, 46 Democrats (including Pennsylvania Senators Bob Casey and John Fetterman) and 2 Independents. Despite, or perhaps because of the bipartisan support, Speaker Johnson has refused to bring that bill up for a vote in the House.

It is into this situation that Bucks County’s own Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick has inserted himself, in the most self-serving and egotistical manner possible. As the Co-Chair of the House Ukraine Caucus, it is not surprising that Rep. Fitzpatrick has been attempting to get support for Ukraine aid. But instead of working to build a coalition to back the legislation that had already passed the Senate with bipartisan support, Brian Fitzpatrick took it upon himself to write his own bill and initiate a discharge petition process for his legislation, instead in support of the Senate-passed bill.

READ: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick Doubles Down With Second MAGA-Inspired Vote To Impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas

The Congressional Research Service has the most succinct explanation of a discharge petition. They describe it as “the only procedure by which Members can secure consideration of a measure without cooperation from the committee of referral, or the majority party leadership and the Committee on Rules. For this reason, discharge is designed to be difficult to accomplish and has rarely been used successfully.” For the discharge petition process to work, a majority of Representatives must sign onto the petition within a set period of time (usually 30 days). If that threshold is met, the House Speaker is forced to bring the legislation up for a vote. Brian Fitzpatrick is familiar with the discharge petition process, as he and his fellow GOP House members used it as a public relations stunt several times during the Speakership of Nancy Pelosi in support of an anti-Choice messaging bill.

Representative Fitzpatrick has been whipping support for his Ukraine aid bill and the discharge petition in the House, but it has hit major snags: no one likes his bill as it omits any humanitarian aid, and Fitzpatrick has been making promises about potential amendments that don’t mesh with the text of his own petition! From Filip Timotija in The Hill:

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the ranking member on the Rules Committee, on Wednesday shot down a bipartisan bill that includes Ukraine aid and border provisions, but no humanitarian funding.

He also dismissed the idea that the measure could be modified to gain support from more lawmakers.

“This idea that somehow we can have this open amendment process that the process does not allow for that,” McGovern told reporters Wednesday morning. “He should read his own discharge petition.” 

McGovern said that Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s (R-Pa.) discharge petition allows only for “one self-executing amendment by himself,” limiting the debate around the legislation, which was introduced as a way to get military aid to Ukraine and other allies. Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has refused to bring to the floor a foreign aid bill passed by the Senate last month…

…“I don’t know how you can possibly move a bill, it doesn’t include humanitarian aid – what’s unfolding in Gaza and in Ukraine as well so, I mean, I couldn’t support a bill like that.,” McGovern said.

This is not the first time that Brian Fitzpatrick has introduced his own watered-down version of a bill on a popular issue instead of supporting a version of the bill with broad backing by others. One example of this pattern occurred in 2021, as Congress considered H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. Around the same time, Brian Fitzpatrick dropped a press release about his own bill designed to help seniors save money on prescription drugs. There were huge differences between the two bills, not the least of which was the 92 cosponsors on H.R. 3 and the scant 2 co-sponsors (including himself) on Fitzpatrick’s version. 

Fitzpatrick repeated this same process in 2019 in regards to raising the minimum wage. Our Congressman introduced his own diluted H.R. 4443 (116th), Fair Wage Act of 2019, instead of joining 205 of his colleagues in co-sponsoring the H.R. 582, Raise the Wage Act.

READ: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick Is A Loyal Soldier in the Crusade to End Reproductive Freedom and Ban Abortion 

If Congressman Fitzpatrick truly wanted Ukraine to get assistance in the most expeditious manner possible, he would introduce a discharge petition on that bill that passed the Senate with 70 votes, H.R. 815.  Indivisible Bucks County (disclaimer: the author of this article is on the leadership team of this organization) has an active petition running right now asking the Congressman to do just that. But as long as Representative Fitzpatrick values having his name on a bill over the reality of helping the people of Ukraine in their fight against an authoritarian menace, his performative measures to boost his faux-bipartisan image are doomed to crash and burn.

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Picture of Kierstyn Zolfo

Kierstyn Zolfo

Kierstyn Zolfo is a volunteer organizer with Indivisible Bucks County and Pennsylvania Indivisible. She and her husband live in Newtown Township.

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