Politics

Speaker Johnson Holds Fast on Border Security After Meeting With Zelensky

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.


House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) came away from a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky more determined than ever to tie providing more aid to his embattled country with a commitment from President Joe Biden to finally get tough on U.S. border security.

The Ukrainian leader was in Washington on Tuesday to plead for more military assistance as his forces have been unable to dislodge Russian troops from their positions inside the eastern sectors of his country after they invaded nearly two years ago.

But Johnson, who has been pushing border security for weeks as part of any future aid package for Ukraine, as well as Taiwan, made it clear following his meeting he wasn’t budging until the White House produced a legitimate and substantial border security plan.

He also accused the Biden administration of failing to provide the American people with a clear plan ahead for Ukraine after providing the country with at least $100 billion, even as the national debt has surpassed $34 trillion under Joe Biden and, for two years of his term, a Democratic Congress.

“I have asked the White House since the day that I was handed the gavel as speaker for clarity,” Johnson told reporters after the meeting. “We need a clear articulation of the strategy to allow Ukraine to win. And thus far their responses have been insufficient.

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“What the Biden administration seems to be asking for is billions of additional dollars with no appropriate oversight or clear strategy to win and none of the answers that I think the American people are owed,” he continued.

“I have also been very clear from day one, that our first condition on any national security supplemental spending package is about our own national security first,” Johnson added.

Biden has requested an additional $61 billion in aid for Ukraine.

“In the last three months – October, November, December alone – we’ve had more illegal crossings at the border than in any entire year of the Obama administration,” Johnson noted in a Tuesday statement. “The American people see this. The feel it acutely.”

Johnson is one of a growing number of Republicans who are tired of throwing American tax money at the war there and are pushing for Ukraine to enter into negotiations with Moscow on ending the war and the killing, even if it means ceding portions of the country to Russia that its forces currently occupy.

Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) argued during an appearance on CNN with host Jake Tapper on Monday that sending billions more to Ukraine won’t make any difference in the overall war effort.

“On the Ukraine question, in particular, everybody knows, everybody with a brain in their head, Jake, knows that this was always going to end in negotiation,” Vance told Tapper.

“The idea that Ukraine was going to throw Russia back to the 1991 borders was preposterous. Nobody actually believed it. So what we’re saying to the president and really to the entire world is, you need to articulate what the ambition is. What is $61 billion going to accomplish that $100 billion hasn’t?” the Ohio Republican added.

“We have to remember, Jake, Ukraine is functionally destroyed as a country. The average age of a soldier in the Ukrainian army right now is 43. That’s tragic. That’s older than me. I’m 39. If this thing goes on a little bit longer, the average age of the Ukrainian soldier is going to be older than you, and then, a year later, it could be a Wolf Blitzer. That is a tragedy. What does it look like?” he asked.

“We are getting to a place where we’re going to be functionally on the hook to pay for Ukrainian pensioners, to rebuild the entire country. We need to bring the killing to a stop, and that’s what American leadership should be doing, not writing more blank checks to the war,” he said.

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