Biden to Press House, Senate Leaders on Ukraine, Government Funding as Shutdown Deadline Looms

Stephen Katte
By Stephen Katte
February 25, 2024Executive Branch
Biden to Press House, Senate Leaders on Ukraine, Government Funding as Shutdown Deadline Looms
The White House in Washington on Feb. 15, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

President Joe Biden has plans to convene a meeting with four congressional leaders at the White House on Tuesday to press for their support in passing a contentious emergency aid package for Ukraine and Israel, and avoid a looming government shutdown next month.

According to The White House, President Biden will meet with the Congressional leaders on Tuesday and “discuss the urgency of passing the bipartisan national security supplemental and keeping the government open.”

The four leaders are House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).

bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), was passed back in January, funding some government departments at current levels to March 1, and others until March 8, including the Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department.

Legislation to keep the federal government operating through the end of September and approval for a $95 billion national security package with aid for Ukraine and Israel but not the southern border passed the Senate on a 70-29 vote earlier this month.

Mr. Johnson has held off on holding a vote on the bills in the House unless funding is allocated for U.S. border security, which has been raised as a significant bipartisan concern. Throughout the ongoing border crisis, record numbers of illegal immigrants and drugs have been allowed to flow into America. It’s estimated that more than 10 million illegal immigrants have crossed the border since President Biden took office.

Concerns have also been raised about terrorist suspects hopping across the border. In the fiscal year 2024, which began in October 2023, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported encountering 50 individuals on the FBI’s terror watchlist trying to enter the United States illegally. In the fiscal year ending 2023, the total was 736. Compared to the two years between fiscal 2017 and 2019, Border Patrol agents apprehended a total of 11 people on the terrorist watch list.

Mr. Schumer penned an open letter on Feb. 25 confirming there was yet to be an agreement to avoid a partial shutdown of the agencies whose funding expires this week, including the Departments of Transportation, Agriculture, and Veterans Affairs.

“With the uncertainty of how the House will pass the appropriations bills and avoid a shutdown this week, I ask all Senators to keep their schedules flexible, so we can work to ensure a pointless and harmful lapse in funding doesn’t occur,” he said.

The latest political standoff over raising the federal debt ceiling is just the latest in a long line. The limit, imposed by Congress, restricts the total amount of debt the government can hold. In the past, when nearing the debt ceiling, Congress usually raised the cap.

In recent times, Republicans have been calling for cuts to spending instead as the national debt passes $34 trillion, or over $100,000 per person.

There have also been concerns raised over the billions in aid being sent to Ukraine as the war now passes the two-year mark and war weariness and uncertainty over a Ukraine victory loom large.

Andrew Thornebrooke contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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