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Speaker Johnson preemptively rejects Ukraine aid bill as it moves forward in Senate

by Nate Ostiller February 13, 2024 10:53 AM 2 min read
U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson conducts a meeting on Nov. 7, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
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U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson suggested on Feb. 12 that he would not support a $95 billion foreign aid bill that included funding for Ukraine on the grounds that it did not address the ongoing crisis at the southern border.  

The bill, which has slowly progressed through the Senate, allocates $60 billion to Ukraine, $14.1 billion for security aid to Israel, $9.2 billion for humanitarian support, and $4.8 billion to assist regional partners in the Indo-Pacific area. A potential final vote in the Senate could come as early as Feb. 14.

It is the latest attempt to pass new aid for Ukraine after months of deadlock in Congress. In the meantime, U.S. funding for Ukraine has all but run out.

"House Republicans were crystal clear from the very beginning of discussions that any so-called national security supplemental legislation must recognize that national security begins at our own border," Johnson wrote on Twitter.

"In the absence of having received any single border policy change from the Senate, the House will have to continue to work its own will on these important matters," he concluded.

Biden: Republicans will have ‘a lot to pay for’ if they don’t pass Ukraine aid
Republicans in the U.S. Senate blocked a supplemental funding bill that included $61 billion in aid for Ukraine in a procedural vote held on Dec. 6, insisting that any further military aid must include major significant domestic border changes.

While it does appear possible the bill will ultimately clear the Senate, Johnson's comments illustrate the ongoing difficulty Ukraine aid faces in the Republican-led House.

Johnson and Republican lawmakers have repeatedly insisted that Congress first address the southern border, including implementing controversial changes that are broadly unpopular with Democrats, before approving new funding for Ukraine or other U.S. allies.

Other Republicans are categorically opposed to new aid for Ukraine, regardless of any Democratic concessions on border and immigration policy.

Former President Donald Trump, the leading Republican presidential candidate, has told members of his party not to pass legislation on the border, as he plans to run on the issue in the general election.

President Joe Biden, speaking with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Feb. 9 at the White House, said it would be "close to criminal neglect" if the U.S. Congress fails to stand by Ukraine.

Border concerns take over after Trump’s primary victories, Ukraine aid in question
Former President Donald Trump’s commanding primary victories have brought the race to the brink of a rematch with President Joe Biden, and caused concern that aid for Ukraine is not a priority for Republicans.
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