The Hill


The White House on Thursday bashed Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) for starting the House recess without bringing the Senate-passed Ukraine aid package to the floor for a vote.

The Senate early Tuesday approved a bipartisan funding measure providing aid to Ukraine, Israel and other allies with 70 votes.

But Johnson says the Senate bill lacks the tougher border security measures demanded by House Republicans and that he won’t move it in the lower chamber.

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates argued in a memo, first obtained by The Hill, that Johnson is cutting and running early to go on recess “instead of ending the harm he’s doing to our national security.”

“Every day that Speaker Johnson causes our national security to deteriorate, America loses. And every day that he puts off a clean vote, congressional Republicans’ standing with the American people plunges,” Bates said. “Running away for an early vacation only worsens both problems.”

House GOP leadership canceled votes for Friday, and the House will return to Washington on Feb. 28 after the President’s Day recess. Bates noted the split out of D.C. also comes days after former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D) won in a New York special election, flipping a GOP-held seat.

“The American people are outraged at the damage Speaker Johnson is causing to America’s national security in the name of politics, as voters in New York proved Tuesday,” Bates said.

“But instead of ending his politicization of the country’s safety, Speaker Johnson is cutting and running, sending the House on an early, undeserved vacation as he continues to strengthen Russia’s murderous war effort and the Iranian regime at the expense of American national security, U.S. manufacturing jobs, and our closest alliances,” he added.

Johnson hit back on Thursday, noting that the White House threw cold water on the Speaker’s request for a meeting with Biden.

“This criticism is unserious. The President — who has spent over a calendar year on vacation since taking office — continues to refuse to even meet with the Speaker,” spokesperson Taylor Haulsee said in a statement.

The White House has hit Johnson all week on the issue of border security. A week ago, a group of senators from both parties unveiled legislation that included efforts to tighten security at the border, as well as provide aid to Ukraine and Israel.

Republicans who had been demanding, that aid to Ukraine be coupled with action at the border argued the package was insufficient, and Johnson said it was dead on arrival in the House, a move that aligned with former President Trump’s desire to run on the border as a political issue against President Biden.

Bates argued that the “national security legislation at hand would pass the House with bipartisan support — as it already did in the Senate” and said voters in the New York special election showed the House GOP will be held “accountable for sabotaging American border security and undercutting essential national security alliances.”