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House Speaker criticizes Senate bill on Ukraine and Israel aid

House Speaker criticizes Senate bill on Ukraine and Israel aid Photo: Mike Johnson (Getty Images)
Author: Liliana Oleniak

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson has criticized the Senate's Ukraine and Israel aid bill for not including measures to stem the record flow of migrants across the U.S.-Mexico border.

"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," he writes on X.

According to him, the Senate did the right thing last week by rejecting the Ukraine, Taiwan, Gaza, and Israel and the Immigration Act because of insufficient border provisions. Johnson believes that the Senate should have amended the current bill to include real border security provisions.

"Instead, the Senate's foreign aid bill is silent on the most pressing issue facing our country," the Speaker writes.

Johnson says that the House of Representatives will now work on the border issue.

Senate bill

The U.S. Senate, with a majority of Democrats, is scheduled to vote on February 13 on the final approval of a $95.34 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.

The Senate's decision is a foregone conclusion. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell was able to secure the support of at least 17 members of his party, more than enough to exceed the 60-vote threshold for passage in the 100-seat chamber.

However, before Democratic President Joe Biden can sign the bill into law, it must be approved by both houses of the U.S. Congress. The bill faces major obstacles in the House of Representatives, where the Republicans have a majority.

Senator John Thune, the second Republican in the House of Representatives, said it was unclear what Speaker Johnson would do now.

Aid to Ukraine

The bill includes $61 billion for Ukraine, $14 billion for Israel in its war against Hamas, and $4.83 billion to support partners in the Indo-Pacific region, including Taiwan, and to deter aggression from China. It will also provide $9.15 billion in humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza, the West Bank, and Ukraine.

Republicans have been demanding for months that the foreign aid bill include border restrictions.

But a bipartisan border deal negotiated over several months has been disliked by most Republicans in the Senate after Donald Trump rejected the agreement.

Last week, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer removed the border security language from the bill.

Trump, who hopes to use the border issue to beat Biden in the November election, has criticized the foreign aid bill, saying that aid to US allies should instead take the form of loans.

Meanwhile, Biden has been urging Congress to hurry up with new aid to Ukraine for months.

But aid to Ukraine faces stronger obstacles in the House of Representatives, where Trump's interests have more influence with Republicans, who control the chamber with a slim majority.