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(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden is hosting top congressional leaders at the White House Tuesday as he and fellow Democrats remain at odds with House Republicans over aid to Ukraine and government funding with a partial shutdown deadline just days away.

The “Big 4” leaders sitting down with the president and Vice President Kamala Harris are House Speaker Mike Johnson, House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

“We got a lot of work to do,” Biden said as they gathered in the Oval Office. “We got to figure out how we’re going to keep funding the government, which is an important problem, important solution we need to find. And I think we can do that.”

“And on Ukraine, I think the need is urgent … I think the consequences of inaction every day in Ukraine are dire,” Biden continued.

Johnson, who is facing criticism from Republicans and Democrats on these issues, insisted there won’t be a government shutdown.

“No, we are going to work to prevent that,” Johnson said as he left the Capitol for the meeting.

Johnson and Schumer have swiped barbs on who is to blame for the funding logjam.

Schumer said earlier Tuesday there is “no justification for provoking a government shutdown” and called on Johnson to get his conference in line.

“Look we realize the speaker of the House in in a difficult position but he must reject the MAGA hard-right, which wants a shut down, wants to hurt America and which does not represent that majority of Republicans in the House, the majority of Republicans in the Senate and the majority of Republicans in America — let alone all Americans,” Schumer said in remarks on the Senate floor.

Johnson earlier this week accused Democrats of playing “petty politics” while Republicans were focused on reining in spending.

If lawmakers can’t reach a spending agreement by Friday night, a partial shutdown will ensue affecting several agencies. If by March 8 there is still no legislation passed, a total government shutdown will occur.

The White House said Monday it was a “basic priority or duty of Congress to keep the government open.”

In addition, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that Biden would use the sit-down with leaders to try to “push forward” his supplemental funding request to provide aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

“What the president wants to see is we want to make sure that the national security interests of the American people get put first, right?” Jean-Pierre said when asked what Biden would consider a successful meeting. “That it is not used as a political football, right? We want to make sure that gets done.”

The two-year mark of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine passed this weekend. Since Republicans took control of the House, no new aid has been approved by Congress to help Ukraine stave off Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces.

Johnson dismissed the stand-alone foreign aid bill for not including border changes, and it was not brought to the House floor before lawmakers left earlier this month for a two-week recess. On the issue of Ukraine aid itself, Johnson previously said he wants answers from the administration on what exactly the endgame is for Ukraine and how the U.S. funds would be used to reach that goal.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, in an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” put the onus on Johnson, saying “one person can bend the course of history” if he allows a vote on Ukraine aid. Sullivan said the administration believed it would ultimately receive bipartisan support.

“Right now, it comes down to his willingness to actually step up to the plate and discharge his responsibility at this critical moment,” Sullivan said. “And history is watching.”

The last time the congressional leaders met was in mid-January to discuss how to break a stalemate over border policy and foreign aid.

Since then, Speaker Johnson, who rejected both a bipartisan border deal and stand-alone foreign aid bill out of the Senate, has been requesting a one-on-one session with President Biden but has so far been denied. The White House had criticized Johnson for his shifting views on how to move forward with the issues. Biden last week signaled he’d be willing to meet with Johnson if he had “anything to say.”


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