Opinion editor's note: Editorials represent the opinions of the Star Tribune Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom.


On Saturday, the capitals of four democracies were strengthened when the U.S. House finally passed long-stalled foreign-aid bills. The three overseas capitals — Kyiv, Jerusalem and Taipei — were boosted by the $95 billion invested in security for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

But just as consequentially, the capital of our country, Washington, D.C., was strengthened by bipartisan legislation led by House Speaker Mike Johnson, who risked his role to do the right thing. Accordingly, just as most Democratic House members had his back on the aid bills, members of both parties should reject Republican extremists who threaten to topple him for doing what the U.S. — and until recently, Republicans — have long done: be a beacon for democracies in their enduring struggle against autocracy.

Johnson wasn't an early convert; he had to be convinced, particularly on the most immediate need: $60.8 billion to aid Ukraine's fight against Russia. The speaker reportedly listened to seasoned, reasoned voices, like CIA Director William Burns, who used intelligence estimates to show Ukraine's growing military disadvantage as well as the specter that Russian revanchism wouldn't stop at Ukraine's borders.

"I really do believe the intel," Johnson told reporters in Washington last week. "I think that [Russian President] Vladimir Putin would continue to march through Europe if he were allowed. I think he might go to the Baltics next. I think he might have a showdown with Poland or one of our NATO allies."

If so, that would draw this country into direct conflict with Russia. Which is why NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg was right to tell the "PBS NewsHour" after the vote that the aid "is not charity. Military support for Ukraine is an investment in our own security, and is an investment in U.S. security."

Fortunately, every Democrat who voted on Saturday agreed. Unfortunately, 112 of 214 Republican representatives voted "no" — including three from Minnesota's congressional delegation: First District Rep. Brad Finstad, Seventh District Rep. Michelle Fischbach and Eighth District Rep. Pete Stauber. All came of political age in an era of Republican reverence for Reagan-era resolve against Soviet expansionism. But when it came to Russia's invasion against a sovereign nation, their votes aligned more with Marjorie Taylor Greene, the former QAnon conspiracy theorist and current Georgia Republican representative who's leading the effort to force out Johnson.

Many GOP opponents of aid to Ukraine may cite the failure to pass a major bill on border security. But the bipartisan landmark legislation to do just that, which was crafted by a Republican senator, Oklahoma's James Lankford, was spiked by congressional GOPers at the behest of former President Donald Trump, who is more interested in a divisive campaign issue than uniting the country by addressing one of its key challenges.

It was equally disappointing that Fifth District Democrat Ilhan Omar was the only Minnesota representative to vote against aid to Israel. Explaining her vote in a statement, Omar said "I do not support unconditional military aid that further escalates the already horrific humanitarian situation."

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is indeed tragic and is a legitimate issue. As a result, the bill includes $9 billion for humanitarian aid, while $17 billion was approved to help Israel defeat Hamas — whose Oct. 7 terrorist attack started the war — and also address threats from Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, various groups operating out of Syria and, most dangerously, directly from Iran, which recently launched a missile and drone attack against Israel.

Tehran, Moscow and Beijing are three capitals of authoritarian nations that were weakened by Saturday's vote. And while approving aid in no way guarantees victory or even protection for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, failure to pass these aid bills would have sent a signal far beyond any of these capitals. Including in Washington, where House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said on Saturday "House Democrats have risen to the occasion, President [Joe] Biden has risen to the occasion, traditional conservatives led by Speaker Mike Johnson have risen to the occasion."

For his part, Johnson said, accurately, "I think we did our work here, and I think history will judge it well."