President Joe Biden met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House on Feb. 9, with both leaders pushing for more U.S. aid to Ukraine, which remains in limbo amid a standoff on Capitol Hill over a border deal that includes foreign assistance.
Many Republicans have opposed the deal because they say it doesn’t do enough to secure the U.S.–Mexico border amid a record influx of illegal immigrants, and that they object to sending $60 billion in aid to Ukraine while the problem along the southern border remains unaddressed. The bill includes $20 billion for border security.
“The failure of the United States Congress, if it occurs, not to support Ukraine is close to criminal neglect,” the president said. “It is outrageous.”
His comments came as Mr. Scholz amplified growing concerns in Europe that money to help Ukraine repel Russia’s invasion was threatened by political deadlock in Washington.
“Without the support of United States, and without the support of the European states, Ukraine will have not a chance to defend its own country,” Mr. Scholz said.
The German leader added that he’s “happy” that decisions have been made in European countries to increase their financial support to Ukraine, with Germany ready to increase its support in the form of weapons deliveries.
Republicans have called on Europe to do more for Kyiv, arguing that the United States can’t afford to keep pouring money into the conflict, given the ballooning U.S. public debt, which recently topped $34 trillion.
‘Dead on Arrival’The foreign aid and border security measure was widely expected to fail amid mounting opposition from Republicans, including House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who said the draft deal would be “dead on arrival” if it were to reach the House, partly because of provisions that tolerate some level of illegal immigration without requiring a border closure.
“This Bill is a great gift to the Democrats, and a Death Wish for The Republican Party,” President Trump said in a post on Truth Social on Feb. 5. In a follow-up post, he added that the measure is “nothing more than a highly sophisticated trap for Republicans to assume the blame on what the Radical Left Democrats have done to our Border, just in time for our most important EVER Election.”
President Trump also objected to a provision in the deal that gives border shutdown authority only after an average of 4,000 encounters with illegal immigrants per day over the course of a week.
What’s in the Border DealThe Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would have the power to close the border to anyone without an appointment to seek asylum if the daily average of crossings reaches 4,000 over a seven-day period.
DHS would be required to close the border if the daily average of crossings hits 5,000 or if crossings exceed 8,500 on any single day.
One thing that many Republicans have insisted on including in the deal that isn’t there now is a restoration of President Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy. Under this policy, asylum-seekers were made to wait in Mexico for their U.S. court hearings.
Republicans have widely credited the Remain in Mexico policy with helping stem the flow of illegal immigration.
Other border provisions in the bill include parole reform, such as closing loopholes in the humanitarian parole program for illegal immigrants, dubbed “catch and release,” by requiring the detention or supervision of all individuals processed at the border.
The bill would also raise the standard for seeking asylum and streamline the screening process in an attempt to ensure that only legitimate asylum-seekers are admitted to the United States.
If approved, the measure would be the most significant border-related legislation in decades.