OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
House Speaker Mike Johnson says it “makes sense” to couple Ukraine aid with funding for the U.S.-Mexico border.
During an interview on Fox News, the newly-elected speaker argued that “we have to take care of our own border first.”
“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 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.’”
“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 acknowledged that all of the appropriations bills might not be completed by the deadline of November 17 and said he has been working through the weekend on a stopgap measure.
He promised to carry on in good faith, pointing out that this year’s continuing resolution differs from previous ones in that it would give 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.”
Johnson claimed that the reason the $14.5 billion plan is being criticized is because House Republicans are “trying to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ resources” by offsetting the expenditure rather than increasing money printing or borrowing to help meet commitments to allies.
He is in favor of protecting Israel “above hiring more IRS agents” and diverting the more than $67 billion fund designated for IRS expansion.
Johnson also shrugged off a Congressional Budget Office analysis that claimed his offset strategy would decrease revenues by $26.8 billion over 10 years and therefore increase the federal deficit by $12.5 billion over that time period.
“Only in Washington can you cut funding, add a pay-for to a new spending measure, and they say it’s terrible for the deficit,” he told host Shannon Bream, referencing the more than $33.5 trillion national debt.
“Listen, we’re taking care of our priorities and we will. We know that these other important measures that right there on the table and we’re working through it hour by hour, day-by-day and we’re going to meet those obligations. But we have to do things in the proper order and we are committed to changing how Washington works,” he continued.
“I think you see a united and energized House conference. All of our members are working together in good faith trying to solve these great challenges that we face, and I’m very optimistic that we’re going to do that. But we are going to also change the trajectory we’re on,” Johnson said.