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Speaker Johnson Stands Firm On Border Demands During White House Meeting

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


House Speaker Mike Johnson emerged from a White House meeting with President Joe Biden and other congressional leaders on Tuesday, saying he held firm on his demand that immediate action to stem the flow of illegal immigration into the U.S. remain his top priority.

The meeting also included Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). While Democratic leaders described the meeting as “intense” yet “productive,” emphasizing the pressing need for increased aid to war-torn Ukraine, Johnson stressed that addressing border security was of paramount importance.

“When I showed up today, my purpose was to express what I believe is the obvious truth, and that is that we must take care of America’s needs first. When you talk about America’s needs, you have to talk first about our open border,” Johnson told reporters.

Johnson also said he brought up that issue “repeatedly today in that room and, again, one-on-one with the president.” He added, “I think that’s our responsibility to bring that up,” then finished his statement by saying that “the first priority of the country is our border and making sure it’s secure. I believe the president can take executive authority right now today to change that.”

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Johnson added his other “big priority” in the meeting was government funding. He told reporters that lawmakers have been working in “good faith” and “around the clock” to come up with a solution to avoid a shutdown next month. “We will get the government funded,” he said.

Earlier this month, Johnson and other GOP leaders said a bipartisan Senate border bill would be “dead on arrival” in the lower chamber if it remained as-is.

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Just the News reported that “Democrats have reached a border deal with Senate Republicans that is apparently tied to funding for the war in Ukraine in a supplemental foreign aid package,” but that Johnson and other House leaders aren’t keen on several of the details.

“Republicans said the border is a priority and we should craft a bipartisan bill to help control the border. We did that,” wrote Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., on the social media platform X. “We have a deal. This weekend we will release the bill and vote next week. It’s decision time.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), meanwhile, said at the time that he planned to “file cloture on the motion to proceed to the vehicle on Monday,” which sets up a procedural vote on the bill.

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Schumer also noted that the legislation includes funding for Israel, “millions of innocent Gaza citizens” in need of aid, and Taiwan. “And our southern border is in urgent need—in urgent need—of fixing,” he added.

Critics from both sides of the aisle have expressed concerns about the Biden Administration’s handling of the border. They point to the record number of encounters with migrants since 2021 as evidence of mismanagement. In December 2023, there were more than 300,000 encounters with migrants at the southern border, setting a new single-month record.

Leaked details of the border deal said that it could allow up to 8,500 migrants to enter the U.S. at the border in a 24-hour period or an average of 5,000 per day before triggering a border closure.

House GOP leaders firmly stated that they consider the agreement to be “dead on arrival” in the Republican-led House. Johnson and conservative members of the House have maintained that President Biden already possesses the necessary authority to address many of the issues at the border through executive orders.

The measure wound up failing in the Senate last week.

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