Speaker Johnson Gives Biden One Final Ultimatum

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In discussions regarding President Joe Biden’s $106 billion package earmarked for the conflicts in Israel and Ukraine, as well as other security requirements, House Speaker Mike Johnson has underscored that Republicans are placing a strong emphasis on significant changes to U.S. border policy. Delivering a resolute message to fellow Republicans, Johnson stressed the paramount importance of prioritizing border security in the ongoing negotiations.

The comprehensive aid package, encompassing military, economic, and humanitarian support, requires approval from a hesitant Congress. However, the inclusion of border security considerations in the negotiations has introduced complexities and slowed progress. Johnson asserted that the primary focus should be on the battle for border security, positioning it as the top priority before addressing other commitments.

Conservatives are focusing on provisions in H.R. 2, a bill passed in May, which calls for the restart of construction of walls along the southern border and stricter regulations for migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. Johnson reiterated these demands in a letter to the White House, further emphasizing the Republicans’ stance on border policy.

These demands by the GOP could potentially jeopardize any legislation that emerges from the Senate, where a bipartisan group is working on a pared-down set of border policy proposals.

Republicans in the Senate have acknowledged that they are not insisting on the broad policies in the House’s legislation, creating a divide between the two chambers.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer scheduled a test vote on emergency funding for Ukraine, Israel, and other national security needs. However, without the inclusion of the border provisions that Republicans are demanding, it is uncertain whether the bill will gain enough support.

The negotiations in the Senate have primarily focused on raising the initial threshold for migrants to enter the asylum system and limiting the executive branch’s authority to admit migrants through humanitarian parole. Democrats have accused Republicans of being unwilling to compromise, while Republicans are making a counter-offer.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell stated that GOP senators would block the funding bill from advancing until it includes the border security policy they desire. McConnell emphasized the need to address border security alongside other international concerns.

House lawmakers also heard from national security adviser Jake Sullivan about the urgency of assisting Ukraine. Republicans in the House remain skeptical about sending more funding to Ukraine and have expressed their reluctance to support it, even if paired with a hardline border policy.

Lawmakers are concerned that Congress may fail to pass the funding by the end of the year, which could have significant implications globally. The situation has raised worries about holding Ukraine funding hostage for domestic political priorities that are difficult to resolve.