Biden summons lawmakers to White House as shutdown deadline approaches


President Biden will try to break the impasse on Capitol Hill over maintaining the government and providing aid to Ukraine and Israel as he convenes the four top congressional leaders at the White House on Tuesday.

Lawmakers are running out of time to reach a deal to avoid another partial government shutdown. The first batch of funding will run out at midnight Friday, while funding for some agencies, including the Department of Defense, will expire on March 8.

“A basic priority or duty of Congress is to keep the government open,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday. “So, that’s what the president wants to see. “He will have those conversations.”

Separately, Biden will ask leaders to approve critical emergency aid for Ukraine. The administration has spent months pushing for additional funding, arguing that Ukraine is running out of artillery, air defense weapons and other munitions. The bill also includes billions in security assistance for Israel as it tries to eliminate Hamas after the October 7 terrorist attacks.

However, keeping the federal government open appears to be the first order of business.

The spending bill is being held back by demands from far-right lawmakers in the House, including measures to restrict access to abortion, which many members will not support. Ultraconservatives have brought the government to the brink of a shutdown or partial shutdown three times in the past six months as they try to push through more spending cuts and conservative policy conditions written into how federal money is spent.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., minority leader; spokesman Mike Johnson; Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and majority leader; and Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York and minority leader, will attend the meeting at the White House. Vice President Kamala Harris will also attend.

The meeting comes after Schumer announced Sunday that leaders had failed to reach a deal over the weekend because “House Republicans need more time to resolve their issues.” Johnson accused Senate Democrats of “trying at this late stage to spend on priorities that are further to the left of what his chamber agreed to.”

The White House has increased pressure on Johnson in recent weeks as Ukraine marked the second anniversary of the Russian invasion over the weekend. Biden continues to emphasize that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is a global threat.

Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, said Sunday that he had spoken with Johnson. The speaker had indicated that he would like to approve funding for Ukraine, Sullivan said, but he was “trying to find a way to do it.”

“Well, this is one of those cases where one person can bend the course of history,” Sullivan said during an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” adding that the foreign aid package would pass overwhelmingly with bipartisan support if passed. a vote.

“Right now, it all comes down to your willingness to step up and fulfill your responsibility at this critical time,” Sullivan said. “And history is watching.”

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