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House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) issued a preemptive warning on Monday that the Republican-controlled chamber was unlikely to take up the Senate’s $95 billion foreign aid package, sharply criticizing the proposed legislation’s failure to address the border crisis—“the most critical aspect of our national security,” as a statement from his office characterized it.
“In the absence of having received any single border policy change from the Senate, the House will have to continue to work its own will on these important matters,” Johnson said in the statement. “America deserves better than the Senate’s status quo.”
Johnson’s statement was issued minutes before the package—which will aid Israel, Ukraine, and other U.S. allies—was set to go before the Senate for a vote. Final passage in the upper chamber is expected by Wednesday at the latest, but the speaker’s statement all but precludes its passage in the House.
My statement on Senate’s failure to address the most critical aspect of national security supplemental legislation: pic.twitter.com/ENjJ0WzKsK
— Speaker Mike Johnson (@SpeakerJohnson) February 13, 2024
After Johnson and other Republican leaders in the House helped to sink an earlier version of the legislation that, notably, did include an overhaul of immigration and border security policy, the new package has all but fractured the party, particularly in the Senate. Though it has enjoyed the support of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and 17 other Republican senators, a hard-right contingent of Republicans in the chamber worked Monday to filibuster the package out of existence.
“Wish us stamina. We fight for you. We stand with America,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tweeted amid delaying the vote for as long as he and his allies could. They had already spent several hours “railing against the aid and complaining about Senate process,” according to the Associated Press.
Paul also called the bill “a middle finger to every working man and woman in America, to every struggling family,” encapsulating Republican fears that it prioritizes foreign funding over tackling issues at home. “Open the champagne, pop the cork!” he ranted during his time on the Senate floor. “The Senate Democrat leader and the Republican leader are on their way to Kyiv!... They’re taking your money to Kyiv!”
The package earmarks $60 billion for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel, as well as a further $10 billion for humanitarian aid, including to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, according to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
In addition to Republicans inside the Senate, the package has found an enemy in Donald Trump, who has spent days railing against its contents. “We should never give money anymore without the hope of a payback, or without ‘strings’ attached,” he blared in an all-caps Truth Social screed on Saturday. “The United States of America should be ‘stupid’ no longer!”
The former president was similarly opposed to the previous $118 billion iteration of the package, and celebrated that Republicans had followed his lead in collapsing the deal they’d demanded. “We crushed Crooked Joe Biden’s disastrous open borders bill. Crushed it,” he said along the campaign trail over the weekend, according to CNN.
Trump’s comments also came as he suggested on Saturday he would disregard the treaty statutes between the U.S. and its allies, indicating he’d let Russia do “whatever the hell they want” to any NATO member that doesn’t meet spending guidelines. Some Republican lawmakers fell over themselves to back him up on Monday, with Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) saying he was “100 percent” behind Trump, according to ABC News. Others, including Paul, pushed back lightly on the former president’s rhetoric, calling it a “careless remark.”
Before opening the Senate chamber on Monday, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) described the bill as nothing less than a “down payment for the survival of Western democracy and the survival of American values,” the AP reported.
“These are the enormously high stakes of the supplemental package: our security, our values, our democracy,” he said.