President Joe Biden (R) participates in a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (L) at the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington, on Feb. 9, 2024. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
President Joe Biden met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House on Feb. 9, with both leaders pushing for more U.S. aid to Ukraine, which remains in limbo amid a standoff on Capitol Hill over a border deal that includes foreign assistance.
On Feb. 7, the Senate blocked
the Biden-backed border deal—which includes $60 billion in Ukraine aid amid its war with Russia—with the bill failing to garner the 60 votes needed to begin debate.
Many Republicans have opposed the deal because they say it doesn’t do enough to secure the U.S.–Mexico border amid a record influx of illegal immigrants, and that they object to sending $60 billion in aid to Ukraine while the problem along the southern border remains unaddressed. The bill includes $20 billion for border security.
At a joint news conference
before his meeting with Mr. Scholz, President Biden called out lawmakers on Capitol Hill for failing to advance the foreign assistance and border security deal.
“The failure of the United States Congress, if it occurs, not to support Ukraine is close to criminal neglect,” the president said. “It is outrageous.”
His comments came as Mr. Scholz amplified growing concerns in Europe that money to help Ukraine repel Russia’s invasion was threatened by political deadlock in Washington.
“Without the support of United States, and without the support of the European states, Ukraine will have not a chance to defend its own country,” Mr. Scholz said.
President Joe Biden (R) participates in a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (L) at the Oval Office on Feb. 9, 2024. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
The German leader added that he’s “happy” that decisions have been made in European countries to increase their financial support to Ukraine, with Germany ready to increase its support in the form of weapons deliveries.
Republicans have called on Europe to do more for Kyiv, arguing that the United States can’t afford to keep pouring money into the conflict, given the ballooning U.S. public debt, which recently topped $34 trillion.
The United States has been a leading provider of aid to Ukraine, providing more than $47 billion in security assistance from 2014, when Russia took over Crimea, through Dec. 27, 2023, according to
the Congressional Research Service.
That figure rises to roughly $75 billion when humanitarian and financial aid is included, according to
a Ukraine support tracker from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
Ahead of his visit to Washington, Mr. Scholz penned an op-ed
in The Wall Street Journal, in which he argued that a Russian victory in Ukraine would make the world a “far more dangerous place” and put a strain on the budgets of European countries as they would be forced to increase spending on security.
European countries have provided
a total of roughly $77 billion in aid to Ukraine.
‘Dead on Arrival’
The foreign aid and border security measure was widely expected to fail amid mounting opposition from Republicans, including House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who said
the draft deal would be “dead on arrival” if it were to reach the House, partly because of provisions that tolerate some level of illegal immigration without requiring a border closure.
Former President Donald Trump, too, has opposed
the border deal in its current form.
“This Bill is a great gift to the Democrats, and a Death Wish for The Republican Party,” President Trump said in a post on Truth Social on Feb. 5. In a follow-up post, he added that the measure is “nothing more than a highly sophisticated trap for Republicans to assume the blame on what the Radical Left Democrats have done to our Border, just in time for our most important EVER Election.”
Former President Donald J. Trump speaks at a National Rifle Association gathering in Harrisburg, Pa., on Feb. 9, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
President Trump also objected to a provision in the deal that gives border shutdown authority only after an average of 4,000 encounters with illegal immigrants per day over the course of a week.
The draft 370-page deal
includes $20 billion for border security while giving federal officials the authority to expel illegal immigrants when certain thresholds are met.
What’s in the Border Deal
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would have the power to close the border to anyone without an appointment to seek asylum if the daily average of crossings reaches 4,000 over a seven-day period.
DHS would be required to close the border if the daily average of crossings hits 5,000 or if crossings exceed 8,500 on any single day.
One thing that many Republicans have insisted on including in the deal that isn’t there now is a restoration of President Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy. Under this policy, asylum-seekers were made to wait in Mexico for their U.S. court hearings.
Republicans have widely credited the Remain in Mexico policy with helping stem the flow of illegal immigration.
Other border provisions in the bill include parole reform, such as closing loopholes in the humanitarian parole program for illegal immigrants, dubbed “catch and release,” by requiring the detention or supervision of all individuals processed at the border.
The bill would also raise the standard for seeking asylum and streamline the screening process in an attempt to ensure that only legitimate asylum-seekers are admitted to the United States.
If approved, the measure would be the most significant border-related legislation in decades.