Biden calls on governors to press Congress on immigration overhaul, Ukraine aid

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Vice President Kamala Harris speaks as members of the National Governors Association meet with her and President Joe Biden at the White House on Feb. 23, 2024. At right are Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, NGA chair, and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, NGA vice chair. (Screenshot from White House webcast)

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden used a meeting with the National Governors Association at the White House on Friday to press for assistance to Ukraine and bipartisan immigration policy changes, both of which are stalled in Congress.

“You deal with this every day, some of you deal with it every single day,” Biden told governors representing both political parties, referring to border security and immigration policy. “You have real skin in the game.”

Biden said the bipartisan changes to immigration policy and border security negotiated by a group of U.S. senators, which were blocked from advancing in that chamber, include “the most fair and humane reforms for legal immigration in a long time.”

“So if this matters to you, it matters to your state, tell your members of Congress, who are standing in the way, to show a little spine,” Biden said.

U.S. immigration law, Biden said, hasn’t kept up with the current state of immigration and is “broken.”

“And our politics has failed to fix it,” he said.

Help for Ukraine

Biden also called on the bipartisan group of governors to speak with lawmakers in the U.S. House. He encouraged them to advocate for bringing the Senate-passed $95 billion emergency spending package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan to the floor.

“Failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will never be forgotten in history,” Biden said. “It will be measured, and it will have impact for decades to come.”

Biden said the United States cannot “walk away” from providing military, humanitarian and economic assistance to Ukraine.

Such a decision would give Russian leader Vladimir Putin exactly what he wants, he said.

“America stands up for freedom,” Biden said. “We never bow to anyone, particularly Putin.”

Governors attending the meeting included Utah Republican Gov. Spencer Cox, chair of the National Governors Association; Colorado Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, vice chair of the group; Idaho Republican Gov. Brad Little; Kentucky Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear; Maine Democratic Gov. Janet Mills; Maryland Democratic Gov. Wes Moore; Minnesota Democratic Gov. Tim Walz; Montana Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte; New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu; New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy; New Mexico Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham; North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper; North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum; Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine; Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt; Oregon Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek; Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro; Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Dan McKee; Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee; Washington state Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee; and Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

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