The Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives immediately promised to bury it. “We have reached a bipartisan agreement on national security that includes the strictest and most fair immigration reforms in decades. I strongly support it,” reacted Mr. Biden in a statement.
“It needs to be brought to my desk so that I can sign it immediately,” he added. This is where things get complicated. The Speaker, Mike Johnson, a loyal supporter of Donald Trump, dashed Mr. Biden’s hopes.
“This bill is even worse than we expected and is far from ending the border disaster created by the president,” he reacted on X, promising that the bill would be “dead on arrival” if it were to pass in the House. Two years after the start of a war that is dragging on – and more than $110 billion already unlocked by Congress – Republicans in particular have begun to find the bill too costly. Aware that the sense of urgency has dulled in Washington since the start of the war in 2022, President Biden had asked Congress in October to link his request for aid to Ukraine to another approximately for Israel, a U.S. ally at war with Hamas.
He also wanted to add a drastic reform of the U.S. immigration policy, a politically sensitive issue, even more so in an election year. “A unique opportunity.” Since the beginning of the conflict, the Kremlin has been betting on the Western aid dwindling, and any hesitation from Kiev’s allies reinforces Russia’s belief that its gamble will pay off.
In late December, the U.S. had released its last installment of military aid available to Ukraine. “It is a unique opportunity to close our open border and provide future administrations with the effective tools they need to end border chaos and protect our country,” acknowledged Oklahoma Senator James Lankford, the lead Republican negotiator, in a statement. The Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, described the bill as “a monumental step toward strengthening the national security of the United States both abroad and along our borders.”