Dispute over border protection and aid to Ukraine in the USA is coming to a head

The dispute between US President Joe Biden and the opposition Republicans over border protection and new aid to Ukraine is becoming ever more heated. Biden called on Republicans on Friday not to block a compromise on border protection. “If you are serious about the border crisis, pass bipartisan legislation and I will sign it.”

A border protection package currently being negotiated between Biden’s Democratic and Republican senators would represent “the toughest and fairest reform package to secure our border” in US history, the president said. “Securing the border through these negotiations is a win for America. For anyone demanding tougher border controls, this is the path.”

Senators from both major parties have been wrestling for weeks about measures to secure the US border with Mexico. The Republicans have made this a condition in order to support Biden’s new billions in aid for Ukraine.

The talks between the senators are said to have made progress. However, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, recently stated that his party would not support a corresponding deal from the Senate in his congressional chamber. He would be “dead on arrival.”

The background is likely to be pressure from former President Donald Trump, who wants to win back the White House in the presidential election in November. The right-wing populist, who has made the fight against irregular immigration a main theme of his election campaign, has criticized the plans to strengthen border security as “meaningless”.

Observers suspect that Trump is rejecting any agreement between Democrats and Republicans on the politically contentious issue because Biden could claim that as a success for himself. An agreement could help the incumbent in the election campaign.

Trump is the clear favorite in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Few in the party dare to oppose the 77-year-old’s demands, which is why Trump has great influence on the Republicans in Congress.

In October, Biden asked Congress for new aid for Kiev amounting to around $61 billion (almost €56 billion). However, this is met with rejection by some Republicans. The conservatives can block further funding for Ukraine as well as border protection legislation with their majority in the House of Representatives and their blocking minority in the Senate.

Washington has so far been Ukraine’s most important supporter in the war against Russia. Since Russia’s war of aggression began in February 2022, the United States has provided or promised more than $44 billion in military aid to Ukraine. However, the funds approved by Congress have now been exhausted. The last aid package for now was announced at the end of December.

A long-term US failure would have serious consequences for Kiev. The Western allies of the USA and Ukraine are therefore looking to Washington with great concern.