Biden Says GOP ‘Making a Big Mistake’ on Ukraine Aid

Biden Says GOP ‘Making a Big Mistake’ on Ukraine Aid

Samuel Corum via Reuters

Congress is out this week, but the battle over billions in aid to Ukraine and Israel has continued. President Joe Biden on Monday was asked by reporters if he would meet with Speaker Mike Johnson to negotiate the aid deal, which Johnson and House Republicans have so far rejected.

“Sure, I’d be happy to meet with him if he has anything to say,” Biden responded.

The White House last week rejected a request from Johnson for a one-on-one meeting, arguing that the speaker has been killing bipartisan aid bills, leaving little reason for a tête-à-tête.

Biden on Monday also expressed some exasperation with House Republicans, saying that they are “making a big mistake” by blocking the aid package and not responding to Russian aggression.

“Look, the way they’re walking away from the threat of Russia, the way they’re walking away from NATO, the way they’re walking away from meeting our obligations, it’s just shocking,” Biden said. “I mean, they’re wild. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

The Senate earlier this month passed a $95.3 billion aid package that included more than $60 billion to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia. The bill was backed by 70 senators, including 22 Republicans, yet Johnson has refused to allow it to come to a vote in the House and has instead demanded to meet with the president.

A spokesperson for Johnson welcomed Biden’s comment. “It’s long overdue,” Raj Shah, Johnson’s deputy chief for communications, posted on X, formerly Twitter. “We look forward to hearing from the WH when he’ll be available for a 1-on-1 meeting that the Speaker has requested for weeks.”

Biden was also asked Monday whether the death of Alexei Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic, might spur House Republicans to move on aid to Ukraine.

“I hope so,” Biden said. “But I’m not sure anything is going to change.”

The bottom line: Biden is in California for a few days and the House isn’t back until February 28. Congress also has to fund the government beyond upcoming March 1 and March 8 deadlines. A $66 billion bipartisan House foreign aid package proposed last week could ultimately form the basis for a new compromise — or not — but there likely won’t be any movement on assistance to Ukraine just yet.