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Biden to host congressional leaders for talks on national security spending

President Biden will host congressional leaders at the White House on Wednesday to discuss his request for billions of dollars in funding for Ukraine, Israel and other national security measures.

“Tomorrow the president will host congressional leaders from the Senate and the House along with key committee leaders and ranking members at the White House to discuss the critical importance of his national security supplemental request,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) are among those expected to attend.

Jean-Pierre said bipartisan negotiations on are ongoing, and the White House believes talks are “headed in the right direction.”

“So yes the president is going to have this important conversation on the supplemental request… but negotiations continue so that is also really important,” she said.

The meeting comes amid a stalemate on Capitol Hill to produce a border security deal that is key to unlocking funding for Ukraine in its war against Russia. Biden’s direct involvement could signal a new phase in talks, however.

The White House in late October sent an emergency funding request of roughly $100 billion to Congress seeking additional money for border security, allies in the Indo-Pacific and for Israel and Ukraine in their respective conflicts against Hamas and Russia.

Roughly $61 billion of that request was money for Ukraine, including $30 billion in equipment for Kyiv from Department of Defense stocks, and to backfill those stocks.

The White House has said it has no more funding available to provide to Ukraine, having exhausted the money that was already approved by Congress as of late December.

The administration has for weeks pleaded with Congress to take action on the supplemental request, arguing that a failure to do so would jeopardize Ukraine’s progress in its fight against Russia, particularly heading into the difficult winter months.

Republicans, who control the House, have said any funding for Ukraine must include changes to border policy. Biden has said he is willing to make significant compromises on the border.

Conservative senators have pushed for a number of demands, including Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who proposed giving aid to Ukraine in $5 billion increments depending on how many migrants cross the border each month.

Sen. Johnson has said McConnell told Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who is leading border talks with Senate Democrats and the Biden administration, that he rejected the proposal. Lankford said the demands divide his GOP conference.

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