Biden is summoning congressional leaders to the White House to talk Ukraine and government funding

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks on student loan debt forgiveness, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Oct. 4, 2023, in Washington. The Biden administration will start canceling student loans for some borrowers starting in February as part of a new repayment plan. Cancellation was originally set to begin in July under the new SAVE repayment plan, but it's being unrolled ahead of schedule to provide faster relief to borrowers. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
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Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will convene the top four congressional leaders at the White House on Tuesday to press lawmakers on passing an emergency aid package for Ukraine and Israel, as well as averting a looming government shutdown next month, according to a White House official.

The top four leaders include 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.

During the meeting, the president will discuss the “urgency” of passing the aid package, which has bipartisan support, as well as legislation to keep the federal government operating through the end of September, said the White House official, who was granted anonymity to discuss a meeting not yet publicly confirmed.

The Republican-led House is also under pressure to pass the $95 billion national security package that bolsters aid for Ukraine, Israel as well as the Indo-Pacific. That legislation cleared the Senate on a 70-29 vote earlier this month, but Johnson has been resistant to putting up the aid bill for a vote in the House.

“This is one of those instances where one person can bend the course of history. Speaker Johnson, if he put this bill on the floor, would produce a strong, bipartisan majority vote in favor of the aid to Ukraine,” Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Sullivan stressed that Ukrainians need weapons and ammunition to fend off Russian forces, and that in his personal conversations with the speaker, he “has indicated that he would like to get the funding for Ukraine.”

Separate from the national security package, the first tranche of government funding is due to expire after March 1. The rest of the federal government, including agencies such as the Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security and the State Department, expires on March 8.