US House speaker wants more info on Ukraine, border measures before approving aid By Reuters

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Republican leader of the U.S. House of Representatives responded to a White House plea for more aid for Ukraine on Tuesday by repeating his request for more information about Ukraine strategy and insisting on Republican demands that aid be tied to changes in U.S. immigration policy.

The request by House Speaker Mike Johnson comes amid a weeks-long impasse between Democrats and Republicans over security assistance for Kyiv.

“I reiterate that President (Joe) Biden must satisfy Congressional oversight inquiries about the Administration’s failure thus far to present clearly defined objectives, and its failure to provide essential weapons (for Ukraine) on a timely basis,” Johnson said in a letter released on Tuesday.

Johnson released his letter in response to one from White House budget director Shalanda Young on Monday in which she warned that Washington was running out of time and money to help Ukraine fight its war against Russia.

Congress has approved more than $110 billion for Ukraine since Russia’s February 2022 invasion, but it has not approved any funds since Republicans took control of the House from Biden’s fellow Democrats in January.

Biden administration officials were due to conduct classified briefings on the situation in Ukraine for members of Congress on Tuesday.

Biden in October asked Congress for nearly $106 billion to fund ambitious plans for Ukraine, Israel and U.S. border security.

House Republicans declined to take up that request, instead passing a bill that provided security assistance only for Israel and cut the budget of the tax-collecting Internal Revenue Service, something strongly opposed by Democrats.

Democrats, who hold a slim majority in the Senate, declined to put that bill up for a vote.

Biden’s request has also been stalled by Republicans’ insistence that any security assistance for Ukraine be coupled with billions of dollars in new funding for security at the border with Mexico and changes in immigration policy.

Johnson noted in the letter that he had met with administration officials on Oct. 26 and said then “that supplemental Ukraine funding is dependent upon enactment of transformative change to our nation’s border security laws.”

Ukrainian officials have been making their own appeals for assistance. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, told a conference that the postponement of U.S. assistance for Kyiv being debated in Congress would create a “big risk” of Ukraine’s losing the war with Russia.

Zelenskiy also was due to address lawmakers via remote linkup on Tuesday.

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