Biden to meet with congressional leaders as government shutdown looms

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 ​[[{“value”:”Biden to meet with congressional leaders as government shutdown looms By Reuters

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Published Feb 27, 2024 06:07AM ET

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. House of Representatives Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) applaud U.S. President Joe Biden during the annual National Prayer Breakfast at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., Febru

By Jarrett Renshaw

(Reuters) – President Joe Biden will meet with the top Democrats and Republicans in Congress on Tuesday in a bid to head off a partial government shutdown beginning in just four days and to urge lawmakers to pass an aid package for Ukraine and Israel.

The White House meeting comes almost two months since Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed on a $1.59 trillion discretionary spending level for the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1.

Despite that deal, Congress has failed to perform its basic duty of funding the government, largely due to in-fighting by Republicans who control the House of Representatives by a thin majority.

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

The spending bill is being held up by demands from ultra-conservative Republicans in the House who want to see spending cuts and policy positions injected into how dollars are spent. A group of hard-right Republicans has brought the government to the brink of a shutdown or a partial shutdown three times in the past six months.

Schumer and Johnson traded accusations in recent days over who was to blame for the stalemate. On Monday, Schumer told reporters that “Democrats are doing everything we can to avoid a shutdown.”

The first batch of government funding, which includes money for agencies that oversee agriculture and transportation, will run out on Friday at midnight, while funding for some agencies including the Pentagon and the State Department will expire on March 8.

The government spending package is separate from the national security aid bill that includes Ukraine and Israel funding, but Biden will make the case for both.

The 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 resisted putting up the aid bill for a vote in the House.

White House has ramped up public pressure on Johnson in recent weeks as Ukraine marked the second anniversary of the Russian invasion.

“What the president wants to see is we want to make sure that the national security interests of the American people gets put first and is not used as a political football,” Jean-Pierre said. “We want to make sure that gets done.”

Biden to meet with congressional leaders as government shutdown looms

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