Congressional Leaders Meet With Biden To Discuss Budget, Border, Foreign Aid

Congress has some pressing issues to deal with, including migrants at the southern border, funding for Ukraine and Israel, and a partial government shutdown that is just days away.

Tuesday, February 27th 2024, 5:25 pm



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Congress has some pressing issues to deal with, including migrants at the southern border, funding for Ukraine and Israel, and a partial government shutdown that is just days away. The leaders of both parties met with President Biden Tuesday to discuss the path forward.

"Doing a shutdown would damage the economy significantly," President Biden said at the start of the meeting, "and I think we all agree to that."

Both Democrats and Republicans emerged from the White House meeting expressing some optimism.

"We believe that we can get to an agreement on these issues and prevent a government shutdown," Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) told reporters as he left the West Wing.

But Johnson also doubled down on his view that the southern border should be priority number one.

"The catastrophe at the border is affecting everyone," he said, "and it is top of mind for all of the American people for that reason."

Exactly how border security gets addressed is still unclear, though, just as it's unclear how lawmakers move forward on aid for Ukraine.

"The intensity in that room was surprising to me," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated.

Senator Schumer, who just returned from Ukraine where he met with President Zelenskyy, emphasized that help cannot wait.

"Here they are, fighting without arms against a brutal dictator," Schumer (D-NY) said, "who will just do anything to kill them."

While the negotiations over the budget, border and foreign aid drag on, payroll for government employees, military servicemembers and their families hang in the balance.

"Families are living paycheck to paycheck," Besa Pinchiotti, with the National Military Family Association, said in a Zoom interview.

Pinchiotti says a lot of the blame lies with Congress for relying so much on short-term funding deals to keep government agencies operating and payroll flowing.

"We're asking our military families to put themselves in danger," Pinchiotti said, "while at the same time, not knowing if they can put food on the table."

If lawmakers don't reach another agreement -- short-term or otherwise -- by this Friday, agencies including the Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Transportation will run out of money, while the Departments of Defense and Justice are set to run out the following Friday, March 8.

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