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Updated Jan 30, 2024, 4:48pm EST
politics

National security package may be split up, Johnson says in private meeting

REUTERS/Leah Millis
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The Scoop

House Speaker Mike Johnson told a group of Baltic speakers of parliament on Tuesday that the national security proposal combining aid for Ukraine with border policy reforms would likely be split up, a person familiar with the conversation told Semafor.

Johnson acknowledged that the path forward couldn’t be certain until the text of a forthcoming border security deal is released, the person said. Johnson spokesman Raj Shah downplayed the comments and said they were made in a hypothetical context when asked about them by Semafor.

Still, the remarks are the latest sign that Johnson believes the broader package — which would include changes to border security policy negotiated by the Senate — to be dead on arrival in the House and is charting the path forward under that assumption. It’s unclear whether splitting up the package would mean the House takes a separate vote on all of the pieces, including aid for Ukraine. Holding a standalone vote on military assistance for Kyiv could open up Johnson to criticism from lawmakers on the right who oppose further aid.

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President Joe Biden’s proposed supplemental includes aid for Ukraine and Israel, border security funding, and money to counter China. Republicans have insisted on border security policy changes in exchange for funding Ukraine, and a bipartisan group has been working out a package to curtail the flow of migrants at the southern border.

Johnson and other conservatives, however, have lambasted the emerging deal as insufficient while calling on Biden to use his executive authority to address the situation at the border. Former President Donald Trump has also been lobbying publicly and privately against any border deal.

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Johnson met with the speakers of the parliaments of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania — Daiga Mieriņa, Lauri Hussar, and Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen — at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday along with Reps. Mike Waltz, R-Fla. and Tom Kean, R-N.J. According to a readout from the speaker’s office, they discussed support for Ukraine, the situation in the Middle East, and the Biden administration’s recent decision to pause new permits for liquefied natural gas projects.

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Johnson “heard from the group their views on the importance of decisive action when it comes to addressing Russian aggression, including on weaponized migration aimed to destabilize national sovereignty,” the readout said.

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