Biden Calls Meeting with Lawmakers Amid Democratic Warnings of Possible Government Shutdown

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President Joe Biden was expected to convene a crucial negotiation session at the White House with the top four congressional leaders. This meeting comes as the Senate’s leading Democrat cautions about the looming possibility of a partial government shutdown.

The high-stakes discussion occurs just three days before funding for various departments, such as Agriculture, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, and other programs, expires late Friday. Additionally, funding for the Defense, State, and Justice departments, along with the rest of the government, is set to expire a week later, on March 8th.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. emphasized that unless Republicans engage earnestly, the looming shutdown could pose severe risks to the economy, escalate costs, compromise safety, and inflict considerable hardship on the American populace.

Schumer highlighted potential consequences, including the threat to critical food aid programs for women and children and the obstruction of loans for farmers if the Agriculture Department shuts down.

Additionally, he pointed out that closing the Transportation Department could heighten travel delays and safety concerns by suspending the training of air traffic controllers and halting investigations.

Schumer noted that the first set of federal funding bills was expected to be prepared over the weekend to allow adequate time for members to review the text. He attributed the missed deadline to the GOP, stating, that it was clear that the House Republicans require more time to sort themselves out.

The delay partly stems from House conservatives’ insistence that Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., attach several conservative policy riders to the spending bills, despite the Democratic-led Senate likely rejecting them.

Johnson responded to Schumer’s comments, alleging that Schumer was resorting to ‘petty politics’ and contending that the delay partly stemmed from last-minute ‘Democrat demands’ not originally included in the Senate’s funding bills.

In a statement, Johnson remarked, that despite the counterproductive rhetoric in Leader Schumer’s letter, the House worked tirelessly and remained committed to reaching a consensus with the Senate on compromise government funding bills before the deadline.

Another challenge in avoiding a shutdown is the congressional calendar. While Senators are set to return to Washington, House members were not scheduled to return until Wednesday evening. This tight timeline leaves Congress with little opportunity to pass funding bills, especially considering that these bills have not been released yet.

During a conference call with rank-and-file House Republicans Johnson hinted at the potential need for another short-term funding bill, despite his aversion to the idea.

Biden’s upcoming meeting with congressional leaders will address not only averting a shutdown but also passing a national security package, which includes crucial military aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.

Following a meeting with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, Schumer urged Johnson to bring the Senate-passed foreign aid legislation to the House floor, emphasizing the urgency of sending aid to prevent Russia from gaining ground in the war.

Schumer urged Congress on Sunday to swiftly pass the bipartisan national security supplemental, emphasizing the need to support Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. He called on Speaker Johnson to witness the situation in Ukraine firsthand, asserting that the supplemental would garner broad bipartisan support if brought to the floor.

Johnson and conservatives argue for border security measures alongside aid for Ukraine, emphasizing the importance of addressing both issues without delay.

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