Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

US House Speaker Mike Johnson made clear on Monday that his Republican-led chamber would not consider a bill aimed at providing billions in new assistance for Ukraine and others, despite its anticipated passage in the Senate with bipartisan support.

The $95 billion package, which includes funding for Israel’s battle against Hamas militants and for strategic ally Taiwan, allocates $60 billion to aid pro-Western Ukraine in replenishing depleted ammunition supplies and vital resources as it enters its third year of conflict.

However, the bill, expected to undergo a final Senate vote in the early hours of Tuesday, does not encompass changes to US immigration policy. Earlier iterations of Senate legislation, which encompassed both border and foreign aid measures, were rejected by members of Johnson’s party in the upper chamber. Johnson had similarly vowed to oppose it in the House, citing concerns over its inadequate addressing of illegal border crossings.

“House Republicans were unequivocal from the outset of discussions that any purported national security supplemental legislation must acknowledge that national security commences at our own border,” Johnson asserted in a statement. He had previously declared the Senate’s initial bill, which included some of the strictest immigration restrictions in decades but fell short of his expectations, as “dead on arrival” in his chamber.

Johnson’s stance echoed that of former President Donald Trump, who vigorously advocated for the bill’s rejection as he seeks re-election and capitalizes on Joe Biden’s perceived vulnerabilities on immigration. Despite bipartisan negotiations spanning months, Senate Republicans ultimately obstructed its progression. However, an alternative bill excluding immigration provisions garnered adequate Republican support to advance in the Democratic-controlled Senate, virtually guaranteeing its passage in a final simple-majority vote around midweek.

“The Senate acted correctly last week by rejecting the Ukraine-Taiwan-Gaza-Israel-Immigration legislation due to its inadequate border provisions,” Johnson emphasized. “In the absence of any border policy alterations from the Senate, the House will proceed to address these crucial matters independently.”

The Republican impasse over the bill reflects both internal discord within the party and a desire among certain factions to keep the border issue prominent leading into the election. Johnson’s opposition to the Ukraine funding bill also diverges from the stance of the top Republican in the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Prior to voting to advance the $95 billion package, McConnell urged his colleagues to rebuff the isolationist approach advocated by Trump and his House allies, stressing the importance of supporting Ukraine and other democracies.

“Our allies and partners are counting on the United States, as the leader of the free world, to demonstrate resolve,” McConnell remarked. “Conversely, our adversaries hope for a different outcome.” Trump’s recent remarks during a campaign speech, where he suggested encouraging Russia to invade countries failing to meet defense spending targets, have raised concerns among NATO allies. He reiterated these sentiments on Monday via his Truth Social network, emphasizing the need for NATO allies to increase defense spending to match that of the United States.

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