Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Wednesday he hopes House Republicans “stand firm” as their Senate counterparts negotiate a deal with Democrats on border security and Ukraine funding.
“I hope the House Republicans stand firm and tell the Senate Republicans, ‘We want a real border bill or nothing. And we’re not going to pass the aid to Ukraine without taking care of the American border,’” Gingrich said on the “Cats & Cosby” show on 77 WABC.
Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., met with President Biden and congressional leaders at the White House Wednesday afternoon to discuss a national security supplemental package requested by the president.
Biden wants Congress to pass billions in additional aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. But House Republicans are adamant that Biden must first agree to their demands on border security before any more taxpayer dollars flow to Ukraine.
SPEAKER JOHNSON SAYS HE CONFRONTED BIDEN ON DOZENS OF MEASURES THAT WEAKENED BORDER: ‘DO YOUR JOB’
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., is seen in the U.S. Capitol before entering the office of Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on Tuesday, January 31, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
“We’re not playing politics with this, we’re demanding real, transformative policy change, because that’s what the American people need and deserve, and that they’re demanding as well,” Johnson said Wednesday before his meeting with Biden.
The proposed national security package includes $61.4 billion for Ukraine, $14.3 billion for Israel (with $10.6 billion allocated for military aid), $13.6 billion for some border security provisions and significant investments in Indo-Pacific security assistance, totaling around $7.4 billion. Additionally, there is $9 billion earmarked for humanitarian aid in Ukraine, Israel and Gaza.
Johnson said he wanted clarity from Biden on Ukraine’s endgame and strategy, accountability for funds and assurance that Ukraine “will not be another Afghanistan. But his first priority was “border, border border.”
Last year, Senate GOP lawmakers threw a wrench in plans to unanimously pass a supplemental that ties Ukraine and Israel aid together and argued they should be separate. However, Republican lawmakers have now linked the $60 billion additional aid to Ukraine with changes in border security policies as a prerequisite for its passage, despite Ukraine President Volodymr Zelenskyy making several pleas on Capitol Hill for continued assistance.
GOP REBELS ADMIT DEFEAT IN SHORT-TERM SPENDING FIGHT AS JOHNSON STICKS BY BIPARTISAN DEAL
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) speaks during a news conference following the Republican conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol on January 17, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)
Biden has flatly rejected the House Republican border proposal, H.R. 2, which the House passed last May. Democrats want a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would provide amnesty and a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants living in the United States.
More than 300,000 migrants were encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border in December, an all-time record.
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., is leading negotiations on a bipartisan border deal that Senate Republicans are hopeful will allow the national security package to move forward, but Johnson said Wednesday after his meeting with Biden that the House GOP position is still H.R. 2.
“I’m hopeful that they’ll [in the Senate] come up with something meaningful. But what I have said from the very beginning is that we have to have H.R. 2, or the functional equivalent thereof,” Johnson told Fox News host Laura Ingraham.
HOUSE, SENATE RELEASE BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT ON GOVERNMENT FUNDING AS SHUTDOWN DEADLINES LOOM
U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, (R-LA), makes his way to speak to the press following a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden and Congressional leaders outside the West Wing of the White House in Washingtion, D.C., Wednesday, January 17, 2024. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
“[H.R. 2] has very important provisions. We reform asylum and the broken parole process. We restore the Trump-era Remain-in-Mexico policy, which is essential. And you end catch-and-release,” he said.
“We need to rebuild the wall. There are other elements as well, but some of those are essential to stop the flow.”
However, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters that the border should not be the only priority for Republicans.
“The rest of the bill is important. We’re getting shot at. The Houthis are shooting at our ships, at commercial ships. We’ve got a war in Israel, a war in Ukraine. I’m sure the Chinese were unhappy with the outcome of the presidential election in Taiwan a few days ago,” McConnell said. “I think it’s time to go ahead with the supplemental, and I’m anticipating it will be before us next week.”
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Gingrich, on the “Cats & Cosby” show, disagreed with McConnell and emphasized the importance of border security to the American people, though he said he supports Ukraine’s war against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The American border is at least as important to Americans as the Ukrainian border. And I’m very much in favor of stopping Putin, but I’m also really, really alarmed at the sheer numbers that Biden has brought into this country and the total dishonesty of their program,” he said.
Fox News Digital’s Elizabeth Elkind and Charles Creitz contributed to this report.