President Joe Biden hosted his first face-to-face meeting in months with top congressional leaders at the White House on Wednesday to discuss his stalled national security funding request, which includes money for border security, Ukraine and Israel.
He summoned the so-called "Big 4," which consists of House Speaker Mike Johnson, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
After the meeting, Johnson noted that the meeting was "productive," but insisted that the border must be the top priority.
"I told the president what I have been saying for many months, and that is that we must have change at the border, substantive policy change," Johnson said. Johnson added that there must be accountability for how U.S. dollars are being spent to support Ukraine.
"We understand the necessity about Ukraine funding, and we want to say that the status quo is unacceptable," Johnson said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke moments after Johnson. He said the president is willing to move forward on the border, but he said any changes must be tied to Ukraine funding.
"We said we have to do both. There were a couple of people in the room that said, 'Let's do border first.' We said we have to do both together," Schumer stated.
President Biden has requested an additional $110 billion for wartime aid to Ukraine and Israel. A bipartisan group of lawmakers has been negotiating for weeks to reach a deal.
The U.S. recently sent a $250 million aid package to Ukraine, but Biden's top budget staffer warned earlier this month that the government is running out of paths to help oversees allies without Congressional approval.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last week at the World Economic Forum. Sullivan said he remained confident that the U.S. can get a bipartisan aid package passed "in the coming weeks."
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