Bipartisan House members unveil new border, foreign aid proposal

(NEW YORK) — After Speaker Mike Johnson rejected the Senate-passed national security supplemental, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers unveiled a new proposal late last week to provide defense-only aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan and funds for the U.S. southern border — however, it’s not yet clear if GOP leadership will consider it.

The $66.3 billion bipartisan package, titled the “Defending Borders, Defending Democracies Act,” would provide the aid for one year after enactment. The biggest chunk of the money — $47.69 billion — would go to supporting the defense of Ukraine.

To address the surge of migrants at the southern border, the legislation would require the suspension of entry of inadmissible aliens and require immigration officers to detain and immediately expel inadmissible aliens.

“Securing one’s borders is necessary to preserving one’s democracy and, therefore, necessary to maintaining world order and world peace,” Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania said in a news release about the proposal.

“As the world’s oldest and strongest democracy, the United States’ primary responsibility must be to secure its own borders. But we also have an obligation to assist our allies in securing their borders, especially when they come under assault by dictators, terrorists, and totalitarians. Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan are all freedom-loving democracies, they are our allies, and we must assist them in protecting their borders just as we must protect our own. We can, and must, achieve all of the above.”

Fitzpatrick told ABC New last week that House members “all have the ability to find a way to navigate a bill to get to the floor and you know, all options are on the table but there are plenty of us that are not going to allow Ukraine to fail on our watch. It’s too existential.” He worked with several other lawmakers — fellow Republicans as well as Democrats — to craft the proposal.

This proposal will certainly put pressure on Johnson, but it’s not yet clear if GOP leadership would consider it. Fitzpatrick said he is going to try to push the proposal forward.

“We’re going to talk to [Johnson] about it. You know, our job is to legislate … Hopefully … we can win this support,” Fitzpatrick said.

Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries made it clear last week that he wants a vote only on the Senate-passed supplemental that Johnson said he was opposed to because it didn’t include any border changes.

“Mike Johnson simply needs to put the bipartisan national security bill on the House floor for an up-or-down vote, and it will pass,” Jeffries said last week at a news conference.

ABC News reached out to Johnson’s office for comment, but hadn’t heard back by the time of publication.

The proposal may lose some momentum given the timing of its release — just before the House embarked on a nearly two-week recess. The House returns to session on Feb. 28.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he could support the new bipartisan proposal out of the House.

“Yes, I’m saying that the House proposal, it depends on how it’s written, makes perfect sense to me,” Graham said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

Graham said he has not spoken to former President Donald Trump about this new House proposal, but said border funding cannot wait. Previously, Trump had called on Republicans to oppose the Senate’s bipartisan national security package — contributing to its tanking.

“President Trump says let’s wait on the border. With all due respect, we cannot wait,” Graham said. “It’s a national security nightmare.”

ABC News’ Fritz Farrow contributed to this report.


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