House Speaker Mike Johnson issued an ultimatum to Joe Biden on Tuesday, saying there will be no more funding for Ukraine before the administration works with Congress first to make extensive reforms to the U.S. immigration system, creating an immediate dilemma for Biden.
Now we’re talking. The question is, will House Speaker Mike Johnson stick to his guns?
Johnson’s ultimatum was in response to Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young sending a letter to House and Senate leaders on Monday warning that funding for Ukraine would likely run out by the end of the year. Young wrote, in part:
There is no magical pot of funding available to meet this moment. We are out of money—and nearly out of time. Cutting off the flow of U.S. weapons and equipment will kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield, not only putting at risk the gains Ukraine has made, but increasing the likelihood of Russian military victories.
Already, our packages of security assistance have become smaller and the deliveries of aid have become more limited. If our assistance stops, it will cause significant issues for Ukraine.
This appears to put Biden between a rock and a hard place, which should be interesting.
Moreover, given the depth of the bitter chasm over border security and immigration reform in Congress, Johnson’s ultimatum has teeth. That is, as I suggested, if he stands firm (yours truly said, with images of John Boehner, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell dancing menacingly in his head).
Johnson put it this way:
[Ukraine aid is] dependent upon enactment of transformative change to our nation’s border security laws.
The Speaker first floated the idea of linking Ukraine aid and Biden’s border disaster in November.
The American people feel very strongly about this, and I do as well. We have things that we can and should do around the world, but we have to take care of our own house first.
As long as the border is wide open, we’re opening ourselves up for great threats. And again, it’s just a matter of principle that if we’re going to take care of a border in Ukraine, we need to take care of America’s as well. And I think there’s bipartisan support for that idea.
Bingo: “If we’re going to take care of a border in Ukraine, we need to take care of America’s as well.” Name one country on the planet whose leaders — other than the Biden administration, that is —disagree with that statement.
The Bottom Line
Not to belabor the point, but based on the weak-kneed pattern of the previously-named former Speakers — and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell — I’d venture a bet that a majority of Republican voters (including this one) familiar with Johnson’s ultimatum are skeptical as hell.
In other words, Mr. Speaker, words — particularly ultimatums — without actions to back up those words are cheap.
Make that worse than cheap. Why? Because Democrats are like spoiled children. Threaten to punish a spoiled child without following through, and what message does that send to the kid? Exactly.
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