Wednesday, April 17, 2024
    HomeWorldBiden Summons Lawmakers to White House as Shutdown Deadline Looms

    Biden Summons Lawmakers to White House as Shutdown Deadline Looms

    President Biden will try to break through a deadlock on Capitol Hill over keeping the government running and providing aid for Ukraine and Israel as he convenes the top four leaders of Congress at the White House on Tuesday.

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

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

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

    Keeping the federal government open, however, appears to be the first order of business.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Right now, it comes down to his willingness to actually step up to the plate and discharge his responsibility at this critical moment,” Mr. Sullivan said. “And history is watching.”



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