Biden and the leaders of the “Big Four” in Congress meet to discuss stalled aid to Ukraine and Israel


President Joe Biden is hosting top lawmakers at the White House on Wednesday to discuss the additional national security funding request, which includes urgent aid for Ukraine and Israel.

Biden’s $106 billion request stalled in October amid intense debate over immigration policy, with Republicans demanding stricter protocols on asylum and parole.

“President Biden will host congressional leaders from the Senate and House of Representatives along with key committee leaders and senior members of the White House to discuss the critical importance of his additional national security request,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed Tuesday afternoon.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have all received invitations to attend, sources told ABC News.

Photo: President Joe Biden holds a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, November 13, 2023, in Washington.

President Joe Biden holds a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House on November 13, 2023 in Washington.

Andrew Harnick/AP

Biden’s supplemental aid request allocates $14 billion for border enforcement, including hiring more than 1,000 additional Border Patrol agents and asylum officers. It also includes $1.2 billion to combat the flow of fentanyl.

But Republicans are demanding more comprehensive changes in US immigration policy, pointing to the influx of migrants at the southwest border.

Speaking to reporters during Tuesday’s press conference, Jean-Pierre said they believe the ongoing border talks are “moving in the right direction” despite the two sides being unable to reach an agreement.

Negotiations have been going on for months, and continued throughout the recess by a bipartisan group of senators, but so far to no avail.

Speaker Johnson is becoming more insistent that the House should not accept the Senate’s action, and should instead continue to insist on H.R. 2, a bill backed by House Republicans that is packed with border policies that the Senate will not support. Which is controlled by Democrats and not supported by the White House. The House of Representatives is likely to use its veto power.

“We will continue to say that Congress must act, and it must act quickly,” Jean-Pierre said. “You know, this is about securing our borders. This is about our national security and the consequences of Congress’ inaction will be dire. So, the president is going to have this critically important conversation.”

Photo: House and Senate leaders host the lighting of the Capitol Menorah

US House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and US House Speaker Mike Johnson listen during remarks at the Capitol Menorah lighting ceremony at the US Capitol on December 12, 2023 in Washington. , Capital.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

This controversy led to continued delays in aid to Ukraine in its war against the Russian invaders. It’s been more than a year since Congress approved significant funding for the Eastern European country, and the administration has said it is quickly running out of money to continue providing aid to Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Washington in mid-December to press for aid, telling lawmakers he was fighting “our freedom and your freedom.”

Congress will spend this week working on a short-term funding bill aimed at giving lawmakers more time to keep the government open and avoid a shutdown. But neither the short-term funding bill nor the long-term appropriations bill that lawmakers hope to complete by March is scheduled to include any funding for Ukraine or Israel.

The additional aid package will include $61 billion for Ukraine and $14.3 billion for Israel.

In remarks to the Senate on Tuesday, Schumer and McConnell discussed the need to provide aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

“At stake is the security of our country and the security of our friends abroad including Ukraine and Israel, and nothing less than the future of Western democracy,” Schumer said. “We cannot let these issues go unaddressed.”

McConnell called the package “our opportunity to expand our ability to meet the national security challenges we face.”

ABC News’ Alexandra Hutzler contributed to this report.

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