Funding for border, Israel and Ukraine

The Biden administration remains under intense pressure both at home and abroad over our ongoing support of Israel against Hamas. In the background, Ukrainian President Zelensky continues to push for more money and arms from Washington as the Russian invasion drags on. Joe Biden tried to force the issue by tying aid for Israel to aid for Ukraine, creating what he seemed to believe was a “must pass” bill. But the House GOP didn’t see it that way and countered by tying aid for Ukraine to significant improvements in border security and shutting down the flow of millions of illegal migrants into the country. That bill is currently stalled, but it may not remain that way. So is this strategy actually working? The Associated Press sees it as some sort of dirty pool, claiming that Speaker Mike Johnson is “interjecting one of the most divisive domestic political issues… into the middle of a debate over wartime foreign policy.”

As war and winter collide, a top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy acknowledged during a recent visit to Washington that the days ahead “will be tough” as his country battles Russia while U.S. support from Congress hangs in the balance.

President Joe Biden’s nearly $106 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other needs sits idle in Congress, neither approved nor rejected, but subjected to new political demands from Republicans who are insisting on U.S.-Mexico border policy changes to halt the flow of migrants.

Linking Ukraine’s military assistance to U.S. border security interjects one of the most divisive domestic political issues — immigration and border crossings — into the middle of an intensifying debate over wartime foreign policy.

The reality is that the GOP is playing the only card they have available at the moment. Democrats control the Senate and the White House, but the House controls the purse strings. If Joe Biden wants more money for Ukraine and Mike Johnson is willing to take this to the wall, they’re going to have to show some real, immediate progress on getting the border under control. Republicans want money for more immigration agents and judges, rule changes allowing for more migrants to be refused entry, and more border wall construction.

The Democrats in the Senate are still calling those demands “nonstarters.” But that’s nonsensical. This is no longer a partisan issue. People all across the country, including many prominent Democrats are screaming for an end to the seemingly endless sea of illegal migrants streaming across the border. It’s one of the only policy areas where we have something close to unanimity among the public, but the progressives in Congress are the ones standing in the way of actual progress.

There is still general Republican support in both chambers for some additional aid to Ukraine, though perhaps not nearly the massive amount that Joe Biden is demanding. A measure like that could be passed in relatively short order after the members return this week from the Thanksgiving break. But some compromises will be required, and one of the easiest ones to achieve would be a border security package. Nobody from either party is going to be losing their seat over voting for something like that.

This is the time for Speaker Johnson to stand firm without looking overly unreasonable. He should be able to make it clear that there is an obvious path forward that causes little to no pain to either side. Then, if the Democrats want to continue to play “my way or the highway,” let them explain their decision to the voters. They will quickly find out that the highway does not include a rest stop with any more funding for Ukraine. And if they push the matter too far, the road may end in yet another shutdown instead.

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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