Speaker Johnson: ‘Very Optimistic’ That Congress Can Prevent Government Shutdown 3 Days From Deadline

Jackson Richman
By Jackson Richman
February 27, 2024Congress
Speaker Johnson: ‘Very Optimistic’ That Congress Can Prevent Government Shutdown 3 Days From Deadline
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson arrives to speak to reporters after a meeting with President Joe Biden and Congressional leadership at the White House on Feb. 27, 2024. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and other congressional leaders expressed optimism that lawmakers would avert a government shutdown before a Friday deadline after a Feb. 27 meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House.

“It was frank and honest,” said Mr. Johnson, who took part in a meeting that also included Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Mr. Johnson also talked with the president one-on-one in the Oval Office.

He said he relayed the point that America’s needs must come first, namely dealing with the crisis at the southern border.

Mr. Johnson said he is “very optimistic” about preventing a government shutdown. He said he told the president that the House would look at the issues included in the Senate package, such as foreign assistance to Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific.

He reiterated that the president can take unilateral action to secure the border.

“It’s time for action. It is a catastrophe, and it must stop,” said Mr. Johnson. “And we will get the government funded, and we’ll keep working on that.”

Mr. Schumer said the meeting was “productive” and “intense.”

He said, “We are making good progress” in trying to avert a government shutdown. He remarked that the disagreements between the sides are not “insurmountable.”

A shutdown would affect many people “even for a short period of time,” and Mr. Johnson concurred, according to Mr. Schumer.

Mr. Schumer recalled that the discussion over assistance for Ukraine “was one of the most intense I’ve ever encountered in my many meetings at the Oval Office,” adding that Mr. McConnell, the president, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Mr. Jeffries stressed the urgency of getting aid to Kyiv.

Not getting the assistance to the Ukrainians would likely result in a Russian victory, NATO “would be fractured at best,” and U.S. allies would turn their back on Washington, and adversaries would feel “emboldened,” said Mr. Schumer.

“And so we said to the Speaker: get it done,” said Mr. Schumer. “I told him this is one of the moments … that history is looking over your shoulder. And if you don’t do the right thing, whatever the immediate politics are, you will regret it.”

When it comes to helping Ukraine, the matter is “in his hands,” said Mr. Schumer, referring to Mr. Johnson.

Additionally, Mr. Schumer expressed interest in getting border legislation passed.

Mr. Jeffries said that the meeting included a frank conversation about the border.

Shortly after the White House meeting, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said the ball is in the House’s court regarding Ukraine.

“The path to victory right now is in the United States,” he told reporters.

Funding that expires at midnight on March 2 relates to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Transportation, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The rest of the government funding expires at midnight on March 9 and affects the Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Labor, Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Interior, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of State, and Department of Commerce.

Border Security

The Senate failed to pass a $118 billion package earlier this month that included assistance to Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific. It also consisted of border security measures that most Republicans said fell short.

It included emergency authority for the Department of Homeland Security to shut down the border if an average of 4,000 daily encounters were reached over one week.

If average encounters were to reach 5,000 per day over the same period, then the DHS secretary would have been required to shut down the border.

The legislation also would have limited the president’s parole authority. This power gives him the ability to allow more illegal immigrants into the country and raises the legal bar for the initial screening of asylum claims.

It also would have expedited the asylum processing time from many years to six months.

The package didn’t include a restoration of the Trump administration’s Remain in Mexico policy, which many Republicans have told The Epoch Times is a must-have.

Since Oct. 1, 2023, which is the start of the fiscal year, there have been 961,537 encounters at the border, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). More than 7.25 million border encounters have occurred during the Biden presidency, according to CBP.

From The Epoch Times

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