House Speaker Mike Johnson indicated that his position on aid to Ukraine remained the same after meeting with the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on Tuesday.
Zelenskyy arrived in Washington, D.C., for a two-day visit to meet President Joe Biden and members of Congress to make the case for more aid to Ukraine, a package for which has been stalled in Congress amid opposition to more aid from Republicans. After meeting with Zelenskyy on Tuesday, Johnson did not suggest the meeting produced either any commitments from Ukraine regarding the use of aid, or that he had changed his position that it must be accompanied by conservative border security legislation, according to a statement provided by his staff.
“[W]e needed clarity on what we’re doing in Ukraine, and how we’ll have proper oversight of the spending of precious taxpayer dollars of the American citizens,” Johnson wrote in his statement, adding that “we needed a transformative change at the border…The House passed HR 2 more than six months ago. It’s been sitting and collecting dust on Chuck Schumer’s desk.” Johnson refers to House Resolution 2, known as the “Secure the Border Act,” a bill that passed the House on May 2 that would, among other things, require resuming construction of a wall along the southern border and bar asylum seekers from making valid claims if they enter the U.S. illegally.
Johnson reiterated the House Republican demand that any aid to Ukraine be accompanied by more funding for security along the United States’ southern border with Mexico, saying “I have also made very clear from day one, that our first condition on any national security supplemental spending package is about our own national security first.” He also indicated that the House’s demand for a special inspector general to monitor the disbursement of funds to Ukraine must be met, with both issues being unaddressed by the Senate.
“We need a clear articulation of the strategy to allow Ukraine to win, and thus far their responses have been insufficient and have not provided us the clarity and the detail that we requested over and over since literally 24 hours after I was handed the gavel as Speaker of the House,” Johnson wrote, with reference to President Joe Biden’s request for $61 billion in new aid to Ukraine. “What the Biden Administration seems to be asking for is billions of additional dollars with no appropriate oversight, no clear strategy to win and none of the answers that I think the American people are owed.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has repeatedly refused to consider H.R. 2 in any manner, claiming that “if Republican colleagues want an agreement on the border, they must meet us at the middle. They need to show us they are serious. So far, when they just ask for H.R. 2 or something like it, they’re not showing seriousness,” in remarks on the Senate floor on Tuesday.
Regarding the content of his meeting with Zelenskyy, Johnson was terse. “I reiterated to him that we stand with him and against Putin’s brutal invasion. The American people stand for freedom and they’re on the right side of this fight,” he said.
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