Johnson Issues Ultimatum to Biden Regarding Ukraine Funding and Immigration

House Speaker Mike Johnson has issued a firm demand to President Biden, stating that any additional funding for Ukraine is contingent on substantial reforms to the U.S. immigration system.

This proclamation, conveyed in a letter to the White House on Tuesday, comes amid months of Democratic efforts, led by Biden, to secure increased funding for Ukraine’s war effort.

With Republican support waning on the matter, Johnson’s stance, particularly given the contentious nature of immigration in Congress, deals a significant setback to the prospects of additional assistance to Kyiv.

In the letter, Johnson writes that Ukraine aid is “dependent upon enactment of transformative change to our nation’s border security laws.”

In reply to a letter from the White House penned on Monday by Shalanda Young, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the statement was issued. Young’s letter cautioned that the United States would exhaust its Ukraine aid funding by the conclusion of 2023.

“There is no magical pot of funding available to meet this moment. We are out of money—and nearly out of time,” Young wrote. “Cutting off the flow of U.S. weapons and equipment will kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield, not only putting at risk the gains Ukraine has made, but increasing the likelihood of Russian military victories.”

“Already, our packages of security assistance have become smaller and the deliveries of aid have become more limited. If our assistance stops, it will cause significant issues for Ukraine,” she added.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the United States has allocated significantly more than $100 billion to support Ukraine’s war efforts. Nevertheless, as domestic crises like the Maui fires and the immigration situation escalate, Republicans are growing more skeptical about why these funds are not being directed toward addressing challenges at home.

“The American people feel very strongly about this, and I do as well. We have things that we can and should do around the world, but we have to take care of our own house first,” Johnson said in November, after he first announced plans to pair Ukraine funding and immigration funding into the same bill. 

“As long as the border is wide open, we’re opening ourselves up for great threats. And again, it’s just a matter of principle that if we’re going to take care of a border in Ukraine, we need to take care of America’s as well. And I think there’s bipartisan support for that idea,” he continued.

This coincides with Ukrainian forces experiencing limited success in their months-long counteroffensive against Russia. Recently, NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg cautioned that the global community should brace itself for unfavorable developments in the conflict this week.