Johnson Sees ‘No Way Forward’ on Border Deal

Johnson Sees ‘No Way Forward’ on Border Deal

Reuters/Elizabeth Frantz

In case there was still any doubt on the matter, Speaker Mike Johnson said Tuesday that the border deal being negotiated by a bipartisan group of senators is a “nonstarter in the House.”

Johnson said last week that the bill — which has not yet been finalized or released — would be “dead on arrival” in the lower chamber, and he’s been hammering that message home this week.

“I just heard Speaker Johnson saying it’s absolutely dead, which is what I wanted to hear,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene told CNN, describing comments made during a closed-door meeting of Republican lawmakers Tuesday. “As a matter of fact, he said so clear, ‘I don’t know why people keep asking me about it,’ because as it stands right now, there’s no way forward.”

Johnson said the emerging bill simply isn’t strong enough. “From what we've seen, clearly, what's been suggested in this bill is not enough to secure the border,” he told reporters. “And we have to insist – we have a responsibility, a duty, to the American people to insist that the border catastrophe is ended. And just trying to whitewash that or do something for political purposes that it appears that may be, is not going to cut it.”

Although Johnson blames Democrats for playing politics with the emerging bill, some critics say that Republicans aligned with Donald Trump are intentionally torpedoing the agreement to preserve the border as a hot-button issue during an election year. Asked if he was killing the bill to help Trump, Johnson said the idea was “absurd.”

At the same time, Johnson said he has talked to Trump “at length” about the issue and noted that the border was a long-standing focus for him. “President Trump is the one that talked about border security before anyone else did,” Johnson said. “He ran on, as you remember, building the wall.”

Ukraine aid could be split off: The seemingly doomed border deal has been yoked legislatively to a military aid package for Ukraine and Israel, among other things, and lawmakers’ failure to reach an agreement on border policy has threatened to upend billions of dollars in assistance for those war-torn countries. But Johnson reportedly told parliamentary leaders from the Baltic states Tuesday that foreign aid could be split from border security for legislative purposes, potentially opening the door for separate votes.

Semafor’s Morgan Chalfant, who reported the news, said Johnson’s spokesperson downplayed the comment, saying it was made in a hypothetical context. Even if Johnson were to hold a vote on a separate aid package for Ukraine and perhaps Israel and Taiwan, it’s not clear that House Republicans would back it.