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US House speaker wants more info on Ukraine, border measures before approving aid

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By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Republican leader of the U.S. House of Representatives reiterated his request for more information about Ukraine strategy and Republican demands for changes in immigration policy on Tuesday, continuing a weeks-long impasse between the parties over security assistance for Kyiv.

“I reiterate that President Biden must satisfy Congressional oversight inquiries about the Administration’s failure thus far to present clearly defined objectives, and its failure to provide essential weapons (for Ukraine) on a timely basis,” Johnson said in a letter released on Tuesday.

“With regard to the U.S. border, the need to regain operational control has never been more urgent and the American people deserve immediate action,” he said.

Johnson released his letter in response to one from White House budget director Shalanda Young on Monday in which she warned that Washington was running out of time and money to help Ukraine fight its war against Russia.

Congress has approved more than $110 billion for Ukraine since Russia’s February 2022 invasion but it has not approved any funds since Johnson’s Republicans took over the House from Biden’s fellow Democrats in January.

Biden administration officials were due to conduct classified briefings on the situation in Ukraine for members of Congress on Tuesday – the House starting in late morning and the Senate in the afternoon.

Biden in October asked Congress for nearly $106 billion to fund ambitious plans for Ukraine, Israel and U.S. border security.

House Republicans declined to take up that request, instead passing a bill that provided security assistance only for Israel with cuts to the budget of the tax-collecting Internal Revenue Service, something strongly opposed by Democrats.

Democrats, who hold a slim majority in the Senate, declined to put that bill up for a vote.

The measure has also been stalled by Republicans’ insistence that any security assistance for Ukraine be coupled with billions of dollars in new funding for security at the border with Mexico and changes in immigration policy.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Mark Porter)

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