Johnson will prioritize border crisis in meeting with President Biden on national security package

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House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., plans to focus on the border during a closed-door meeting with President Biden and congressional leaders at the White House Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re not playing politics with this, we’re demanding real, transformative policy change, because that’s what the American people need and deserve, and that they’re demanding as well,” Johnson told reporters Wednesday morning. “House Republicans are standing on that line. I will tell the president that today —I’ve been saying it consistently since the moment I was handed the speaker’s gavel.”

Johnson told reporters, just hours before top bicameral leaders plan to meet with Biden to discuss the national security supplemental package, that he will ask for clarity on Ukraine’s endgame and strategy, accountability for funds, and assurance that Ukraine “will not be another Afghanistan.”

“So, I’m going to push for those, but before we even talk about Ukraine, I’m going to tell the president, and I’m telling all of you… border, border, border,” Johnson said. “We have to take care of our own house. We have to secure our own border before we talk about doing anything else.”

BIDEN INVITES KEY CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS TO ‘CRITICAL’ MEETING ON ADDITIONAL NATIONAL SECURITY SPENDING

President Biden, left, and House Speaker Mike Johnson. (Getty Images)

After the GOP conference meeting, Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., told Fox News Digital that Johnson was “pretty close” to saying it was either the House’s version of border security that was passed last year, or no more Ukraine funding.

“Basically, the bottom line is Biden wants Ukraine to be funded,” Murphy said. “And we’re not talking about it at all until we do something about the border.”

Alongside Johnson, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., are expected to be in attendance at the meeting. 

Biden first requested Congress to pass the supplemental package in October, which would unlock billions in aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. However, this week, the Senate also has another priority: averting a partial government shutdown by Friday when funding runs out for some agencies. 

SPEAKER JOHNSON GIVES BIDEN AN ULTIMATUM ON UKRAINE FUNDING, IMMIGRATION

Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Mike Johnson Ukraine aid

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, meets with House Speaker Mike Johnson to discuss additional aid from Congress. (Courtesy Speaker Mike Johnson’s office)

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The proposed national security package 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 security provisions and significant investments in Indo-Pacific security assistance, totaling around $7.4 billion. Additionally, there is $9 billion earmarked for humanitarian aid in Ukraine, Israel and Gaza.

Last year, Senate GOP lawmakers threw a wrench in plans to unanimously pass a supplemental that ties Ukraine and Israel aid together and argued they should be separate. However, Republican lawmakers have now linked the $60 billion additional aid to Ukraine with changes in border security policies as a prerequisite for its passage, despite Ukraine President Volodymr Zelenskyy making several pleas on Capitol Hill for continued assistance.

The U.S. has reportedly sent more than $100 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February 2022. 

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