US House Speaker issues Ukraine ultimatum to Biden

The Republican lawmaker has set conditions for approving any more money for Kiev

Getting the Republican-majority House of Representatives to approve additional funding for Ukraine would require first securing the US border with Mexico, Speaker Mike Johnson told the White House on Tuesday.

The Louisiana Republican was responding to Monday’s public letter from Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shalanda Young, who warned that the US was “out of money—and nearly out of time” in terms of aid to Ukraine and Israel. Young argued that cutting off US aid would “kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield” and increase the “likelihood of Russian military victories.”

Johnson first addressed Israel, noting that the House approved the Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act (HR 6126) on November 2, but that Democrats who control the Senate “voted to block consideration of the bill.”

As for Ukraine, Johnson wrote, the Republican position has remained unchanged since his meeting with Young and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on October 26, when he laid out “two essential prerequisites: security at our border, and critical answers regarding the funds requested.”

Six days prior, President Joe Biden had announced the proposal to bundle the funding for Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan and immigration and border enforcement in a $106 billion package, of which about $60 billion would go to Kiev.

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US House Speaker issues Ukraine ultimatum to Biden
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Additional funding for Ukraine is “dependent upon enactment of transformative change to our nation’s border security laws,” Johnson wrote on Tuesday. The House passed the Secure the Border Act of 2023 (HR 2), “more than six months ago,” he noted, but the Senate Democrats have “refused to act” on it.

Pointing to over 6.5 million “illegal alien encounters” along the southern US border since Biden took office, of which 294 involved people “on the terrorist watchlist,” Johnson called the situation “an unconscionable and unsustainable catastrophe.”

In addition to “madness” on the border, Johnson noted that the White House still owed Congress “a full accounting of how prior US military and humanitarian aid” to Ukraine was spent “and an explanation of the president’s strategy to ensure an accelerated path to victory.” He accused Biden of “failure thus far to present clearly defined objectives,” and to provide Kiev the weapons it needed on time.

“Rather than engaging with Congressional Republicans to discuss logical reforms, the Biden Administration has ignored reality, choosing instead to engage in political posturing,” the House speaker said.

Talks on a border security bill in the Senate collapsed earlier in the day, as Democrats denounced the Republican proposal as “extreme,” claiming it would “end asylum as we know it.”

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