US House speaker resists Ukraine, Israel bill

By Thomson Reuters Feb 14, 2024 | 10:15 AM

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson indicated again on Wednesday he has no immediate plans to allow the chamber to vote on a $95 billion package of international security assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

“We’re not going to be forced into action by the Senate,” Johnson said at House leaders’ weekly news conference.

He reiterated his insistence that any package of international military and humanitarian assistance must also include measures to address security at the U.S. border with Mexico.

The Senate passed the security bill without border provisions on Tuesday after Republicans blocked a version of the bill, the result of months of bipartisan negotiations, that included the biggest overhaul of U.S. immigration policy in decades.

The aid package received 70 votes – including “ayes” from 22 Republicans – in the Senate, which is narrowly controlled by Democrats. But to become law, it must also pass the House, where Johnson’s Republicans have a slim majority and thus exert almost total control over what comes up for a vote.

“We’re going to continue to demand that before we take care of issues all around the world, we take care of our own first,” Johnson said, referring to border measures.

He said that Republicans had refused the compromise bill with border measures because it was inadequate. “The reason that the other one was dead on arrival is because it did not meet the moment, it would not have solved the problem,” Johnson said.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, additional reporting by Makini Brice and Katharine Jackson; editing by Jonathan Oatis)