Mike Johnson Pushing Ukraine Aid Separate From Border Security — Despite Months Of Assurances Otherwise

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson has shifted positions on additional aid to Ukraine, appearing to cast aside his initial request that border security funding be included in the package.

House Republican leadership introduced a bill packaging roughly $61 billion for Ukraine aid, $26 billion for Israel aid and $8 billion for Indo-Pacific aid on Wednesday, and is set to release an independent border security bill to be voted on separately. Johnson previously appeared to support additional Ukraine aid only if it was tied to some sort of a border security package.

 

Shortly after being elected to the speaker role, Johnson declared that it was necessary to secure the U.S.’ southern border before ensuring the national security of other nations.

“You’ve heard me say that we want to pair border security with Ukraine because I think we’d get bipartisan agreement on both of those matters,” Johnson said during his first formal press conference as speaker on Nov. 2. “We have obligations and we have things that we can and should do around the world, but we have to take care of our own house first. And as long as the border’s wide open, we’re opening ourselves up for great threat.”

“What we’ve said is that if there is to be additional assistance to Ukraine — which most members of Congress believe is important — we have to also work on changing our own border policy,” Johnson said during an event in Florida on Nov. 27, underscoring that the two “need to move together because we owe that to the American people.”

Johnson wrote in a letter to the Office of Management and Budget on Dec. 5 that he told key administration officials during a meeting in October that any additional Ukraine aid was “dependent upon enactment of transformative change to our nation’s border security laws.” Johnson had met with the Biden administration to discuss its $106 billion supplemental request, which included roughly $60 billion in aid to Ukraine, $14 billion for Israel and $13 billion for border security.

A strong border security deal was the “hill to die on,” Johnson told Republican lawmakers during a closed-door meeting on Dec. 5. Johnson met again with Biden in January to relay that it was “the top priority,” he told reporters.

The Senate released a border security bill in February that mirrored Biden’s supplemental request, which Johnson had warned would be “dead on arrival,” as several House Republicans felt the bill prioritized Ukraine aid and failed to include provisions that would substantially strengthen border security. The House never took up the bill, and the Senate instead passed a foreign aid bill stripped of border security.

Johnson began signaling in March that the House would have to take up a “stand-alone” Ukraine aid bill, which he acknowledged would likely require a surplus of Democratic votes given the increasing unrest on the Republican side.

After Johnson announced his plan to bring the bills to the floor, Republican Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie announced he would join Republican Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s effort to oust him from the speaker role.

Several House Republicans on Wednesday expressed ire with Johnson’s decision to move Ukraine aid forward separate from guaranteed border security.

“Every true conservative America First patriot in the House should vote against the rule for this borrowed foreign aid bill with no border security!” Republican Virginia Rep. Bob Good said on Wednesday.

“This is a total and complete failure,” Republican Texas Rep. Chip Roy said on Wednesday.


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