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Lawmakers face government shutdown deadline this week

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Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., face a partial government shutdown deadline this week and another separate shutdown early next week, setting up a chaotic Congress and frantic dealmaking, or lack thereof, before Friday.

President Joe Biden brought Congressional leaders to the White House Tuesday where he urged them to secure a deal to keep the government open that includes funding for Ukraine, Israel and Gaza.

“We got to figure out how we’re going to keep funding the government, which is an important problem, an important solution we need to find,” Biden said at the meeting, going on to say the need to fund Ukraine is “urgent” and not doing so would be “dire.”

Biden called on lawmakers to provide funds to replenish Israel’s missile defense system and for humanitarian aid for Gaza, where thousands have died amid Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas terrorists on Israeli civilians.

“And so…and government funding, I’m sure you guys had all that all taken care of,” Biden said jokingly. “But all kidding aside, I think that it’s Congress’s responsibility to fund the government. We got to get about doing it. A shutdown would damage the economy significantly, and I think we all agree to that. And we need bipartisan solutions.”

Vice President Kamala Harris, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., attended the meeting with the president.

After the meetings at the White House, Johnson told reporters that the conversations were “frank and honest.”

“When I showed up today, my purpose was to express what I believe is the obvious truth, which is that we must take care of America’s needs first,” he said. “When you talk about America’s needs, you have to talk first about our open border.

“I brought that issue up repeatedly today in that room and again, one-on-one with the president,” he added.

Johnson said they have been working “around the clock” to keep the government funded at that he is “optimistic” they can avoid a government shutdown.

A $95 billion bill for the Ukraine, Gaza and Israel foreign aid that Biden mentioned passed the Senate earlier this month, despite significant Republican opposition, but the bill has gone nowhere in the House. House Republicans have become increasingly disinterested in more funding for Ukraine, especially as the southern border crisis continues to worsen.

More than 10 million illegal immigrants have entered the U.S. since Biden took office, and recent high-profile murders allegedly committed by migrants have thrust the issue again into the forefront.

While Biden has called for legislation to be passed to address the issue, Republicans argue Biden is deflecting responsibility and has the money and manpower, just not the political will, to fix the border.

After the meeting, Johnson told reporters he is “pursuing and investigating” the passed foreign aid supplemental bill.

Johnson has so far managed to keep his party unified, a disjointed party he inherited after former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was ousted after a similar government shutdown battle.

Bartering a deal with Democrats to keep the government open was the final straw that ended McCarthy’s speakership, a fact certainly in Johnson’s calculation. Many Republicans, though, fear their party will be blamed for the shutdown, in an election year, no less.

Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned against a shutdown during a speech from the floor Monday.

After the White House meeting Tuesday, Schumer talked with reporters, stressing the “consequences to the people of America” if Ukraine funding is not passed, saying the war could be lost.