House GOP unveils border bill as conservatives decry foreign aid measures

House GOP leaders on Wednesday introduced a new border security bill designed to placate conservatives who are up in arms as Speaker Mike Johnson's (R-La.) foreign aid package eschews tougher measures to combat immigration.

Johnson announced Wednesday morning that he was moving ahead with sending aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, despite apparent opposition from hardline Republicans. For months, the speaker has said any aid to Kyiv must be tied to legislation to address the situation on the southern border.

But the speaker said he would introduce a separate border security bill as the House considered foreign aid measures as a change to his initial plan, seen as a way to assuage conservative anger. He said the border security bill would move the Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan measures under a separate procedural rule.

The gambit, however, drew sharp — and immediate — criticism from hard-line Republicans, who dismissed the new border bill as weak and part of Johnson's bad faith attempt to appease conservative concerns.

“That's a joke,” Rep. Bob Goode (R-Va.), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, told reporters of the border bill. “That's pretend. That's theater. That's noise.”

“It's a theatrical, shiny object,” echoed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.). “It's a shiny object of Republicans saying we've got to do something about the border.”

The House is expected to vote on the border bill in the coming days as part of Johnson's plan to send aid to US allies in conflict. But even if it passes the House it faces a stalemate in the Senate, where many of the provisions are nonstarters among Democrats.

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Nevertheless, Johnson is presenting the border bill as an “aggressive” measure that is instrumental in the broader conversation about national security subsidization.

“We're going to push a very aggressive border security operation into the ground. It's part of the whole process. All of these things are intertwined,” he told reporters Wednesday afternoon. “If you're going to talk about national security, if it's a national security supplemental package, you We must begin within our own borders. That is what we have been saying over and over again.”

“I think it's going to be a popular measure, and I expect we're going to have a big vote, and I think it's going to be a partisan vote, unfortunately, but I'm sure every Republican will support it, and then we're going to leave. Tell the American people that we're still fighting for you. Tell me,” he added later.

The original legislation based on HR 2, the Act to End Border Devastation, was promptly ignored by the Senate after passing the House bill last May.

The new legislation largely mirrors that effort, holding a vote on another bill that would severely restrict asylum and build former President Trump's border wall.

Beyond cutting asylum protections for those fleeing persecution, the bill also restricts other avenues for legal immigration to the United States.

It also reintroduces other Trump-era policies, including the controversial Remain in Mexico program that required immigrants to wait for asylum cases in Mexico that was repealed by the Biden administration.

Immigration advocates at the time described HR 2 as one of the most serious pieces of legislation the House has had to seriously consider in recent years.

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The only text in the new version from HR 2 is a provision aimed at preventing the hiring of people who are not legally present in the United States and who are legally qualified to work in the United States before hiring them.

“We're going to put key elements of HR 2, which is our legislation that House Republicans passed a year ago; it's sitting on Chuck Schumer's desk gathering dust and they're making fun of it,” Johnson said.

“We're going to reintroduce it. End detention, stay in Mexico, fix the broken asylum process, fix the broken parole process that's been abused, rebuild parts of the wall.”

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