Biden warns congressional leaders of ‘dire’ consequences if Ukraine doesn’t get $60B

WASHINGTON — President Biden told House and Senate leaders in the Oval Office Tuesday that there would be “dire” consequences if Congress doesn’t pass $60 billion in additional military aid for Ukraine.

Biden met with the leaders of both major parties after spurning for weeks House Speaker Mike Johnson’s request for a one-on-one meeting to discuss US war aims and oversight of spending in the notoriously corrupt region.

The meeting also comes ahead of a weekend deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown, which Johnson (R-La.) told reporters Tuesday he’s committed to avoiding.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve gotta figure out how we’re going to keep funding the government, which is an important problem — an important solution we need to find. And I think we can do that,” Biden told Johnson, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The 81-year-old president, joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, sat in front of a roaring fire in the Oval Office fireplace — despite the temperature outside topping 60 degrees Fahrenheit — as he read from notecards.

“And Ukraine — I think the need is urgent. I hope we can speak to that a little bit. And I think the consequences of inaction in Ukraine are dire. I’ve been speaking to some of our G7 partners … they’re very concerned,” Biden said.

“And also we need to, in terms of the supplemental, we need to deal with the Israeli portion. But that also contains a significant portion having to do with humanitarian assistance in the Palestinian areas.

“We have to replenish the air defenses for Israel and we have to work on making sure they don’t face the threat from what’s going on in the Middle East, not just from Hamas but from Iran.”

Biden added: “And the government funding — I’m sure you guys have all of that all taken care of. But all kidding aside … A shutdown would damage the economy significantly, and I think we all agree to that. And we need bipartisan solutions. So I want to hear from the group.”

Johnson told the press as he left the Capitol for the meeting that he is confident there will not be a partial government shutdown, which would begin at 11:59 p.m. Friday.

“We’re going to work to prevent that,” the speaker said. “We’re going to prevent a government shutdown.”

The Senate already has approved the additional $60 billion for Ukraine as part of a larger $95 billion foreign aid package, which Johnson has yet to call up in the House.

Biden could send $4.4 billion in additional military aid to Ukraine, but he has resisted doing so without congressional replenishment of US stocks.

Congress previously appropriated $113 billion for Kyiv’s defense in the largely stalemated two-year conflict.

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