Advertisement

White House invites congressional leaders to meet with Biden over border bill talks

Congressional leaders have been invited to the White House on Wednesday to meet with President Joe Biden about the future of a supplemental spending bill, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced Tuesday.

The bill being negotiated is aimed at sending aid to Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan and the US southern border with Mexico, but efforts to include changes to border and immigration policy in particular have stalled progress for months.

Biden will welcome leaders from the House and Senate, as well as “key committee leaders and ranking members” to the White House “to discuss the critical importance of his national security supplemental request,” Jean-Pierre said.

The president, White House sources told CNN, plans to stress to the bipartisan group the urgent need for Congress to approve additional funding for Ukraine, in part by laying out setbacks that Ukraine could suffer on the battlefield in its ongoing fight against Russia without additional US aid.

One of the sources said Biden plans to both walk through the impact that US aid has had on Ukraine’s battle against Russia over the last two years, and also warn about the “cost of inaction” as Russia continues its airstrikes and counter-offensive in Ukraine. The White House has repeatedly warned that the administration has exhausted its presidential drawdown authority funding.

Raj Shah, a spokesman for House Speaker Mike Johnson, confirmed the meeting on X, writing, “Speaker Johnson alongside other congressional leaders will be meeting with President Biden tomorrow at the White House.”

Negotiations have continued primarily in the Senate since late last year, but conservative House Republicans have sought to push any package the Senate comes up with to the right, making the pathway to pass any legislation unclear on an issue that has divided Congress for decades.

Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, who is leading negotiations for the GOP over the deal on border policy that would also unlock funding for Ukraine and Israel, dismissed reports that Johnson told his conference he would reject a Senate negotiated border deal.

“There’s always rumors about what’s actually out there. No one’s seen the text. Speaker Johnson has been very clear that if this is the whole agreement, this is a major problem. And it’s clearly not. And there’s all kinds of things that are flying around the internet right now. And I just smile to people and say, ‘There’s a basic principle of life that you don’t believe everything you read on the internet and get the facts,’” Lankford told CNN, adding that without the text, it’s a “big challenge” as people speculate on what will be in the final deal.

Lankford also indicated that negotiators are hoping to release text this week on a potential border deal.

Negotiators have continued to meet, and CNN spotted some of the primary negotiators leaving Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s office Tuesday morning, including Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Pressed on House Republican insistence that any agreement must include HR 2, the partisan House-passed border bill, Lankford praised the bill but said that what comes out of the Senate must be bipartisan.

“The House almost always puts out a straight partisan product, whether it’s Republican or Democrat. On the Senate side, we can’t. We have to do bipartisan products on it to be able to move anything through. So, it just takes longer. It’s slower, to be able to work this through,” he said. “So the Senate’s got to be able to do the work that we’ve got to do to be able to get a product out. The House has already put their product out and then let’s see if we can actually get us a settled final issue.”

Lankford also told CNN that the negotiators are “pressing as fast as we can possibly go” and that they’re aiming to have text out as quickly as possible.

“Our target is to get text out as quickly as we can. And we’re hoping to be able to do that this week,” he said. “But we continue to go through little technical things that are just constantly going to come up over and over again. You gotta get them resolved.”

The White House, a second source said, has seen encouraging progress on border talks in recent days and is hoping to use the Wednesday meeting to press lawmakers to move quickly once an agreement is struck on the immigration portion of the supplemental package.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s MJ Lee contributed to this report.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com