Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) once again rejected a deal to fund Biden’s continued border operations coupled with tens of billions in foreign aid on Wednesday.
Johnson had shot down a deal on Saturday, tweeting “absolutely not” after details emerged of a draft deal crafted by Senate negotiators.
“We’re not playing politics at this,” Johnson said at a Wednesday press conference. “We’re demanding real, transformative policy change, because that’s what the American people need and deserve, and that they’re demanding as well.”
Right now, the entire funding of the government will be an amendment to legislation about duck hunting.
This is like watching a football team that specializes in the punt.
Republicans should not be willing to fund the government without dealing with the border. pic.twitter.com/wcNCwp9AW9
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) January 17, 2024
Absolutely not. pic.twitter.com/tkXma24r8M
— Speaker Mike Johnson (@SpeakerJohnson) January 13, 2024
Johnson’s comments came hours before a meeting at the White House with President Joe Biden and other congressional leaders to discuss the supplemental funding deal. Senate negotiators have been working for months to craft a border compromise that could pass muster and allow the foreign aid to continue flowing as well.
The Speaker has advocated H.R. 2, a comprehensive border security package that would reinstate many of President Donald Trump’s policies that Biden ended, leading to the unprecedented migrant crisis.
In December, law enforcement encountered more than 300,000 migrants, a new record.
Johnson is the lone skeptic in congressional leadership of the White House’s strategy for pairing the two issues. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have worked with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the Biden White House to find the right pressure point to force Johnson to action.
Before the White House meeting, Johnson appeared unmoved, insisting H.R. 2 must be the starting point for negotiations.
“House Republicans are standing on that line,” he said. “I will tell the president that today. I’ve been saying that consistently since the moment I was handed this gavel, and that’s never changed.”
For decades, terms such as “comprehensive immigration reform” and “comprehensive border security” have been thrown around by advocates of open border bills that ultimately failed. Johnson pushed back on calls to once again push similar legislation, insisting that the provisions of the House bill are crafted to work together to fix the problem, and that removal of one or more of the major provisions would render the bill ineffective at stopping the flow of migrants.
“I don’t care what you call it,” Johnson told reporters. “I’m telling you that these elements are important to make the necessary change. No one should be playing politics at this. There’s too much at stake.”
Approval of Biden’s handling of the border is underwater, with independents and Democrats rejecting his failure to address the issue. Democrat officials across the nation have pleaded with Biden to take action to address the unprecedented numbers of unhoused migrants flooding their cities.
Skeptics of Biden’s border deal say his cynical election year priority is to “hide and house” migrants, providing nothing more than a temporary band-aid on the problem by removing migrants from the streets and perhaps temporarily reducing the crime that accompanies their arrival.
Johnson laid out why it is critical for Republicans to use their leverage to provide a real solution that could last beyond an election year.
“Fentanyl is the leading cause of death for Americans age 18 to 49,” he said:
Trafficking is a scourge. The cartels on the border down there are making billions of dollars trafficking humans into the U.S. Sixty to 70 percent of the people that cross at Eagle Pass, which is the main funnel right now, are single adult males between the ages of 18 and 40.
These are not huddled masses of families seeking refuge and asylum. These are people who are coming here probably with ill design.
The whole purpose of this White House meeting today is to force Mike Johnson to cave and support BILLIONS in Ukraine funding – and a border deal no one has seen https://t.co/CYAauZboco
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) January 17, 2024
Johnson also echoed sentiments of the American people in demanding the Biden administration lay out a path to victory before funding Ukraine’s war, which has been at a stalemate for a year, demanding “accountability for the funds.”
“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 [American aid] would continue without those appropriate answers. So I’m gonna push for those.” Johnson continued. “But before we even talk about Ukraine, I’m gonna 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. We have to secure our own border before we talk about doing anything else.”
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Our BORDER PATROL agents should have operational control of OUR southern border – not the criminal cartels! pic.twitter.com/QFO5HqaAbU
— Rep. Lauren Boebert (@RepBoebert) January 17, 2024
Freshman Democrat Rep. Max Frost: Republicans might as well take down the Statue of Liberty if they're going to demand a secure border! ???? pic.twitter.com/6yAHno9n7l
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) January 17, 2024