Note: This story was updated to include a statement from State Rep. Austin Theriault.
Democratic Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) released a statement Monday accusing House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) of not wanting to secure the border and of preferring a victory for Vladimir Putin in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Rep. Golden’s accusations follow the Sunday release of a Senate border security and foreign aid package that would direct roughly $60 billion in aid to Ukraine, alongside $14.1 billion in security assistance to Israel.
House Speaker Johnson said the Senate deal is “worse than we expected” and that the bill would be “dead on arrival” in the House.
Instead of the Senate deal, which ties border security funds to foreign aid to both Ukraine and Israel, Johnson has proposed a stand-alone $17.6 billion aid package to Israel.
“It seems like Speaker Johnson prefers to talk about securing the border than to do anything about it,” Golden wrote in his Monday statement.
“And [Johnson’s] unwillingness to allow a vote on aid for Ukraine suggests that he prefers a Russian victory in that conflict, despite Putin’s decade-long effort to undermine America’s democracy and economy both at home and abroad,” Golden wrote.
Golden’s statement that Johnson has taken the side of Vladimir Putin for opposing the compromise Senate deal marks an escalation in rhetoric from his previous statement that former President Donald Trump and GOP leaders were using the border issue as a “campaign tool against the Democrats.”
Earlier in January, before the details of the Senate deal were made public, Golden appeared to place more blame on President Joe Biden for the crisis at the southern border, calling on the Biden administration to “enforce the immigration laws.”
“I continue to support aid for Israel it its war against Hamas, just as I supported it in the prior bill with offsets,” Golden continued in his Monday statement. “But Congress should be able to do more than one thing at once.”
Maine State Rep. Mike Soboleski (R-Phillips), who is currently running in the 2024 Republican primary for Maine’s 2nd District, said Monday that “Jared Golden owns the Biden broken border policy.”
“Joe Biden broke the border through Executive Order in his first days in office,” Soboleski said. “This bill is an election year attempt to make Democrats look like borderhawks when they are not.”
“In the real world this bill does nothing to curb unsustainable border crossing by foreign nationals,” he added. “It gives another $60 billion to Ukraine and ties the hands of a future President to fix this mess.”
In contrast to Golden’s statement that “Congress should be able to do more than one thing at once,” Soboleski said “We need stand alone bills in DC to truly have honest debate on big policy issues.”
State Rep. Austin Theriault (R-Fort Kent), who is competing against Soboleski in the 2024 CD2 Republican primary, also weighed in on Golden’s statement.
“This is a perfect example of Jared Golden saying one thing while doing another,” Theriault told the Maine Wire Monday. “When he had the chance to secure the border, he voted against H.R. 2, which would finish the border wall, crack down on visa overstays, beef up the Border Patrol, and much more.”
“There’s a clear difference in this race: I will fight to secure our northern and southern border. Jared will talk about the problem, but he’s been down there for years and he has opposed the solution again and again,” Theriault said.
“This is what the people are sick and tired of: political games to get re-elected rather than real action,” he added. “And when it comes to Ukraine, Jared Golden favors a ‘blank check’ approach. That’s the wrong approach — Mainers should come first.”