Biden Meets with Congressional Leaders Days Before Shutdown Deadline

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with leaders of Congress just days ahead of a deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown. 

According to President Joe Biden in the afternoon meeting, Friday’s deadline is urgent and so is sending aid to Ukraine. 

“I think the consequence of inaction every day in Ukraine are dire,” said President Biden. 

Tuesday’s meeting comes as the situation in Ukraine grows more dire by the day. It also comes just four days before a major deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown. 

The meeting to discuss the national security bill and a critical government funding deadline was intense but productive, according to Congressional leaders. 

“The meeting on Ukraine was one of the most intense I have ever encountered in my many meetings in the Oval Office,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D- NY).  

The House has yet to take up the Senate’s $95 billion national security bill, which includes $60 billion to assist Ukraine. 

“We said to the Speaker, ‘get it done.’ It’s in his hands,” said Sen. Schumer. 

“It was frank and honest. I think we need more frank and honest conversations on Capitol Hill,” said House Speaker Mike Johnson (R- LA) of the meeting. 

Speaker Johnson said his goal heading into the meeting was to prioritize America’s needs. 

“When you talk about America’s needs, you have to talk first about our open border,” said Johnson. “I believe the President can take executive authority right now today to change that. It’s time for action. It is a catastrophe, and it must stop,” he added. 

In the meeting, leaders expressed cautious optimism about avoiding a partial government shutdown. But many conservative House members are calling on Speaker Johnson to hold out for more spending cuts, which could lead to a shutdown. 

Pressure from Democrats to keep the government open is also mounting as the clock ticks closer toward Friday’s deadline. 

“Unfortunately, we’ve had a lot of challenges with the new Speaker,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D- NY) when asked whether she’s confident Congress will meet the deadline. “He (Johnson) doesn’t seem to have his sea legs yet. He’s been unable to govern and get votes on the simplest things, even though they’re widely bipartisan in the Senate, such as the national security bill we passed,” Gillibrand added. 

Sen. Gillibrand says members of New York’s Republican delegation should be pushing Johnson to keep the government open. 

“They should be pushing him to keep the government open. They should be pushing him on the security bill. They should be pushing him on tax bill,” said Gillibrand. “It’s very frustrating that a delegation from New York, that’s as big as it is, doesn’t have any say. I hope that they continue to push more aggressively with the new Speaker,” she added. 

After the meeting, Speaker Johnson said he believes leaders can find agreement to avoid a partial shutdown before Friday. 

“We believe that we can get to agreement on these issues and prevent a government shutdown, and that’s our first responsibility,” said Johnson.