Speaker Johnson pushes to couple Ukraine aid and border: ‘Take care of our own border first’

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., on Sunday argued it “makes sense” to couple Ukraine aid with funding for the U.S.-Mexico border. 

“We have to take care of our own border first,” Johnson said during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”

That was in response to Democratic chairs of leading congressional caucuses who said on Saturday, “Republicans cannot move their extreme, cruel immigration agenda through the regular legislative process, so they’re trying to make an end-run around Congress and exploit two foreign wars to force it into law.” 

“What this is about is advancing the agenda and first priorities of the American people. I don’t know which Democrat gave you that absurd quote, but they clearly are not listening to their constituents,” Johnson told “Fox News Sunday” host Shannon Bream. “If you go out into the country people will say, ‘Look we understand our role as a leader in the free world, and we understand that we’re the great superpower that needs to assist and ensure that freedom survives, but we have to take care of our own house first.’”

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“And securing our border is an essential priority for the American people. So they’re not listening to their constituents. I think that’s a tone-deaf response,” he continued. “Again, we can do all these things together, but when you couple Ukraine and the border, that makes sense to people because they say If we’re going to protect Ukraine’s border, and we have to do what if necessary there, we don’t want Vladimir Putin to prevail, we can’t afford that, the free world can’t afford that, but we have to take care of our own border first.” 

Johnson spoke of a “growing consensus in Congress, certainly among Republicans, but even some across the aisle who recognize you have to change what is happening.” He cited more than 6.3 million illegal border crossings since President Biden took office, remarking “that’s more than the population of my state.”

“We cannot continue this, everyone knows it,” Johnson said. “And the fentanyl that’s coming over the border, human trafficking, the cartels making billions of dollars off of our backs, we are going to stop that. And the House Republicans are committed to it. I think the people are with us.” 

Johnson said he’s been working through the weekend on a stop gap measure, recognizing that all appropriations bills may not be done by the Nov. 17 deadline. He vowed to continue in good faith, saying the difference between a continuing resolution now compared to years past is that it would allow time to continue “the appropriations process.”

“We’re committed to bringing 12 bills to the floor as the statutory law requires Congress to do that hasn’t been done in many years, but again we’re changing the way Washington works because we believe it needs to be more accountable and more transparent for the people.” 

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Reacting the crowd of as many as 100,000 anti-Israel demonstrators who descended on Washington, D.C., over the weekend, Johnson said it is surprising to see “this level of antisemitism that has sprung up around the country.” He reacted to criticism of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., of the House proposal of emergency immediate funding for Israel that Johnson helped pass hours after becoming speaker. Schumer argued the measure “wastes precious time at moment when we need to help Israel, Ukraine and send humanitarian aid to Gaza ASAP.” 

Johnson said the $14.5 billion proposal is facing criticism because House Republicans are “trying to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ resources” by offsetting the spending instead of printing more money or borrowing funds to help fulfill obligations to allies. 

He supports taking the money from the more than $67 billion fund allocated to build up the IRS and instead prioritize protecting Israel “over hiring more IRS agents.”

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