WASHINGTON: US House Speaker Mike Johnson indicated on Monday (Feb 12) that his Republican-led chamber would not take up a Bill to provide billions in new assistance for Ukraine and others, despite its likely passage in the Senate with bipartisan backing.
The US$95 billion package includes funding for Israel's fight against Hamas militants and for key strategic ally Taiwan, but the lion's share - US$60 billion - would help pro-Western Ukraine restock depleted ammunition supplies, weapons and other crucial needs as it enters a third year of war.
The Bill, which could see a final Senate vote in the early hours Tuesday morning, does not include changes to US immigration policy.
A previous Senate text that encompassed both the border and foreign aid was killed by members of Johnson's own party in the upper chamber, after he similarly vowed to kill it in the House over concerns it did not sufficiently address illegal border crossings.
"House Republicans were crystal clear from the very beginning of discussions that any so-called national security supplemental legislation must recognize that national security begins at our own border," Johnson said in a statement.
Johnson had previously stated that the Senate's first Bill - which included some of the harshest immigration curbs in decades but which he said still did not go far enough - would be "dead on arrival" in his chamber.
His rhetoric matched that of former president Donald Trump, who forcefully called for the Bill to be rejected as he runs for office again and seeks to exploit Joe Biden's perceived weakness on immigration.
Despite months of bipartisan negotiations over the Bill, Senate Republicans ultimately voted to block it from proceeding.
Another Bill excluding the immigration provisions however gained enough support from Republicans to move forward in the Democratic-controlled Senate, making it almost certain it will pass a final simple-majority vote around midweek.
"The Senate did the right thing last week by rejecting the Ukraine-Taiwan-Gaza-Israel-Immigration legislation due to its insufficient border provisions, and it should have gone back to the drawing board to amend the current Bill to include real border security provisions," Johnson said.
"Now, in the absence of having received any single border policy change from the Senate, the House will have to continue to work its own wil...