Latest News 30-11-2023 00:03 9 Views

House Speaker Johnson to meet with Senate GOP leaders amid escalating border, Ukraine talks

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., is expected to meet with Senate GOP leaders at their Capitol Hill lunch on Wednesday, Johnson's office confirmed to Fox News Digital. 

The meeting arrives at a crucial juncture as the two chambers need to reconcile their differences to finalize the Biden administration's approximately $106 billion national security supplemental aid package. 

Deliberations have revolved around border security, Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan for several weeks. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced a vote on the package would occur as early as next week. 

Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., want to keep Ukraine and Israel aid tied together. Meanwhile, the House passed a $14.3 billion Israel-only aid package earlier this month that also included steep cuts to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

But that package likely won't pass the Democrat-controlled Senate, nor get the White House's approval without funding to help Ukraine. 

'Let me be clear: The Senate will not take up the House GOP’s deeply flawed proposal,' Schumer posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Nov. 2. 'Instead we will work on our own bipartisan emergency aid package that includes funding for aid to Israel, Ukraine, humanitarian aid including for Gaza, and competition with the Chinese Government.'

The White House's supplemental request, which was sent to Congress in October, includes $61.4 billion for Ukraine, $14.3 billion for Israel (with $10.6 billion allocated for military aid), $13.6 billion for some border measures such as speeding up asylum processing, and significant investments in Indo-Pacific security assistance, totaling around $7.4 billion. Additionally, there's $9 billion earmarked for humanitarian aid in Ukraine, Israel and Gaza.

But a mounting impediment for the Democrats will be the influx of migrants at the border, which has thrown a wrench in plans for a smooth bipartisan passage. Republicans in the Senate say tighter border security provisions must be in the supplemental and argue its current form does not address the slowing of illegal entries.

'I called the president last week to make sure he understood that there wouldn't be a bill without a credible effort to get on top of our disastrous southern border situation,' McConnell told reporters Tuesday after the GOP's weekly luncheon resumed following the Thanksgiving recess.

'I hope that made the point, because I think on our side, I've been the most enthusiastic supporter of the underlying bill, but this has to be part of it,' he said.

But Johnson may be apt to throw more funding to Ukraine if it's tied with the GOP's vision of border security provisions. 

On Monday, Johnson said during a press conference in Florida, 'Ukraine is another priority. Of course, we can’t allow Vladimir Putin to march through Europe.' 

'And we understand the necessity of assisting there. What we’ve said is that if there is to be additional assistance to Ukraine, which most members of Congress believe is important – we have to also work on changing our own border policy,' he said. 'And so there’s been a lot of thoughtful negotiation ongoing with that. I think most of our Senate colleagues recognize that those two things need to move together because we owe that to the American people.'

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