Skip to content

Military Aid for Ukraine, Israel Gets Tangled Up with GOP Border Security Proposal

Republican demands for measures on border security are proving to be an obstacle to “progress” on advancing military aid to Ukraine and Israel. Money for border security was included in Biden’s $106 billion war budget request issued in October but the proposals put forward by House Republicans on asylum reform seem to be more than Senate Democrats can swallow. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) reportedly told fellow Republicans on Dec. 5 that sweeping changes to U.S. border policy would be their “hill to die on” in negotiations with the Democrats over Biden’s package.

Johnson delivered the hard-line message Dec. 5 Tuesday morning ahead of a classified briefing Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had organized at the Senate Appropriations Committee to underscore how desperately the aid is needed, reported the Associated Press. Instead, the meeting erupted in frustration and yelling as Republican Senators insisted on including border security in the discussion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was scheduled to make a video presentation at the briefing, but canceled at the last minute, perhaps perceiving that the divisive environment in Washington doesn’t bode well for funding for Ukraine. Present at the briefing were Secretary of State Tony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Charles Q. Brown who were the targets of some of the loud complaints and questions, before a group of angry Republicans walked out of the room.

The Democrats have dismissed the Republican border proposals as attempts to return to the draconian policies of former President Donald Trump. “The battle is for the border,” Johnson said at a news conference. “We do that first as a top priority, and we’ll take care of these other obligations.”

At the Senate briefing, Chuck Schumer was trying to advance the emergency funding legislation without the border provisions Republicans are demanding. He claimed that the package is crucial to ensuring the future of Ukraine and democracy. “This is a turning point in Western civilization,” Schumer told reporters at a news conference.

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said it was “not rational” to expect the closely divided Senate to pass a bill that didn’t gain a single Democratic vote in the House. “You can’t make law like that,” Lankford said. “We have to make law.”