Biden Summoning Congressional Leaders 02/26 06:08
President Joe Biden will convene the top four congressional leaders at the
White House on Tuesday to press lawmakers on passing an emergency aid package
for Ukraine and Israel, as well as averting a looming government shutdown next
month, according to a White House official.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Joe Biden will convene the top four
congressional leaders at the White House on Tuesday to press lawmakers on
passing an emergency aid package for Ukraine and Israel, as well as averting a
looming government shutdown next month, according to a White House official.
The top four leaders include House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., Senate
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries,
D-N.Y., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
During the meeting, the president will discuss the "urgency" of passing the
aid package, which has bipartisan support, as well as legislation to keep the
federal government operating through the end of September, said the White House
official, who was granted anonymity to discuss a meeting not yet publicly
The Republican-led House is under pressure to pass the $95 billion national
security package that bolsters aid for Ukraine, Israel as well as the
Indo-Pacific. That legislation cleared the Senate on a 70-29 vote earlier this
month, but Johnson has been resistant to putting up the aid bill for a vote in
"This is one of those instances where one person can bend the course of
history. Speaker Johnson, if he put this bill on the floor, would produce a
strong, bipartisan majority vote in favor of the aid to Ukraine," Jake
Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, said Sunday on ABC's "This
Sullivan stressed that Ukrainians need weapons and ammunition to fend off
Russian forces, and that in his personal conversations with the speaker, he
"has indicated that he would like to get the funding for Ukraine."
Separate from the national security package, the first tranche of government
funding is due to expire Friday. The rest of the federal government, including
agencies such as the Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security and the State
Department, expires on March 8.
In a letter to his colleagues sent Sunday, Schumer said there was not yet an
agreement to avoid a partial shutdown of the agencies whose funding expires
this week. That includes the departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban
Development, Agriculture and Veterans Affairs.
"While we had hoped to have legislation ready this weekend that would give
ample time for members to review the text, it is clear now that House
Republicans need more time to sort themselves out," Schumer wrote in the
letter. The Senate majority leader called on Johnson to "step up to once again
buck the extremists in his caucus and do the right thing" by greenlighting
funding to keep the government open.
Johnson said Schumer's letter was "counterproductive" and said Democrats
were pushing their own unrealistic policy demands.
"This is not a time for petty politics," Johnson said in a statement. "House
Republicans will continue to work in good faith and hope to reach an outcome as
soon as possible, even as we continue to insist that our own border security
must be addressed immediately."