Mike Johnson: Lack of House GOP input has slowed border package, plans second Israel aid bill

House Speaker Mike Johnson quashed any notion of putting a border security and foreign aid package on the House floor soon, saying Senate leadership “eliminated the ability for swift consideration” of the legislation because of a lack of House GOP input.

Mr. Johnson told his conference in a letter obtained by The Washington Times that he plans to put another standalone Israel aid bill on the floor next week. But the latest version won’t be offset with IRS funding.

The speaker’s decision comes as bipartisan negotiators in the Senate are expected to unveil the legislative text of their deal to include more stringent border security measures into President Biden’s $110 billion funding request for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

“While the Senate appears poised to finally release text of their supplemental package after months of behind closed doors negotiations, their leadership is aware that by failing to include the House in their negotiations, they have eliminated the ability for swift consideration of any legislation,” Mr. Johnson, Louisiana Republican, wrote.

He continued, “As I have said consistently for the past three months, the House will have to work its will on these issues, and our priorities will need to be addressed.”

House Republicans have argued that the only way they will support marrying border security with more Ukraine aid is if the Secure the Border Act is included in the deal, which is a nonstarter for Senate Democrats.

That is because the legislation, which the House passed in May, revives Trump-era border policies like Remain in Mexico, along with tweaks like beefing up e-verify provisions for businesses.

Mr. Johnson and a growing number of House Republicans contend that Mr. Biden could solve issues at the border by enacting laws already on the books. The White House says it needs new powers to solve the border crisis.

Further damaging the Senate’s border deal are leaked details of its inner workings, like giving authority to shutter the U.S./Mexico border only when 5,000 migrants illegally cross every day for a week.

Sen. James Lankford, Oklahoma Republican and lead GOP negotiator on the deal, has urged lawmakers to wait for the legislative text to be released before casting judgment.

With the Senate’s border policy aspirations taking another blow, the House will advance a standalone, $17.6 billion Israel aid bill.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre fired back at Mr. Johnson’s move, contending that the Biden administration opposed the decision to decouple Israel aid from the broader foreign aid package because it does nothing to secure the border, stymie Russian aggression in Ukraine, or provide humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians. 

“Just as legislative text is imminent, the House Republicans come up with their latest cynical political maneuver,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said. “The security of Israel should be sacred, not a political game.”

The latest version, which is $3 billion more than the previous legislation passed by the House in October, would include $9.7 billion to replenish the Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems.

The legislation from Rep. Ken Calvert, California Republican, would also spend $7.7 billion to aid Israel and for U.S. military operations in the Middle East following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on the Jewish state.

Mr. Calvert’s bill also sets aside $200 million for enhanced embassy security and for evacuating Americans still in the region.

The previous standalone Israel aid bill easily passed the House but has not been taken up by the Democrat-led Senate mainly because of the president’s funding package.

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