Biden to meet with top congressional leaders on immigration and Ukraine aid

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has invited the top four congressional leaders to the White House on Wednesday afternoon to discuss his request for national security funding, which includes aid for Ukraine and Israel as well as border security, according to multiple sources.

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., are expected to attend, along with some key committee leaders from both parties.

The meeting comes at a critical moment for Washington. Congress must pass a short-term funding bill to avert a government shutdown before money runs out Friday night.

Image: Joe Biden (Evan Vucci / AP)
Image: Joe Biden (Evan Vucci / AP)

Bipartisan Senate negotiators are simultaneously trying to hammer out a separate agreement on increased border security measures in exchange for additional military aid for Ukraine, though Johnson says the supplemental package won’t fly in the House unless it includes the tough House-passed border bill known as H.R. 2.

The White House meeting was first reported by Punchbowl News. Johnson's spokesman, Raj Shah, later confirmed that the congressional leaders would be attending the meeting in a post on X.

It did not appear that members of the bipartisan Senate working group were invited to the meeting. The group, which includes Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.; James Lankford, R-Okla.; and Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz, has been negotiating behind closed doors for weeks. But some sticking points remain, including GOP efforts to restrict humanitarian parole, which allows the president to temporarily admit certain people into the U.S.

Wednesday's White House gathering will come exactly one week after Biden and Johnson spoke by phone about border security. During the call, according to the speaker's office, Johnson urged Biden to use his executive authority to secure the southern border with Mexico, the same message Johnson delivered to him in a letter last month.

Citing record migrant crossings, Republicans have argued that border security will be the top campaign issue heading into the 2024 elections. Johnson and more than 60 other House Republicans kicked off the New Year by visiting the border in Eagle Pass, Texas, where they called on Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to get tougher in stopping undocumented immigrants from illegally entering the country.

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