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On Wednesday, US House Speaker Mike Johnson revealed his determination to continue with a stalemate between Democrats and Republicans regarding legislation that would pave the way for continued funding to Ukraine.
The deal is currently being worked on in the Senate with the aim to pair border and immigration policy changes (what Republicans want) alongside funding for Ukraine (what Democrats are asking for).
“I don’t think now is the time for comprehensive immigration reform because we know how complicated that is,” Johnson said early Wednesday. “You can’t do that quickly. I do think it’s past time to secure the border.”
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Biden called for the top four congressional leaders and other lawmakers, including Johnson to the White House in an effort to move forward with an agreement on legislation for border security and funding for Ukraine. The Senate has been working for weeks in an effort to craft some common ground legislation, but some senators last week said significant disagreements remain an issue.
“With regard to Ukraine, we have needed, we have requested publicly and privately in every form, answers to critical questions: What is the end game and the strategy in Ukraine? How will we have accountability for the funds?” said Johnson, seeming to suggest that a bipartisan deal may not be enough to encourage their support of continued funding for Ukraine. “We need to know that Ukraine would not be another Afghanistan.”
“And you see a lot of the American people scratching their heads, having real questions about why that would continue without these appropriate answers. So I’m going to push for those. But before we even talk about Ukraine, I’m going to tell the president what I’m telling all of you and we’ve told the American people: border, border, border, we have to take care of our own house,” the house speaker said at a conference on Wednesday.
“We have to secure our own borders before we talk about doing anything else. And that’s the message I’ve had since day one. It’s the message we’ll continue to have.”
Senator Mitch McConnell—who was reported to be one of the people invited to Wednesday’s meeting—said voting on the supplemental legislation could take place as soon as next week.
“I am more optimistic than ever before that we come to an agreement,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, told reporters after Wednesday’s meeting.
“There was a large amount of agreement around the table, that we must do Ukraine, and we must do border. There was tremendous focus on Ukraine, and an understanding that if we don’t come to Ukraine’s aid, that the consequences for America around the globe would be nothing short of devastating,” Schumer said.
Johnson said that the meeting was “productive” and that he had emphasized that US border security should be prioritized before Ukraine.
“We understand the necessity about Ukraine funding and we want to say that the status quo is unacceptable,” Johnson said on Wednesday. “We need the Commander-in-Chief of this country, the President of the United States, to show strength on the world stage, and not weakness. We cannot continue with the current status quo.”