US President Joe Biden met with House Speaker Mike Johnson and other congressional leaders on Wednesday to discuss immigration policy at the Mexican border and funding for Ukraine.
Republicans in Congress have blocked emergency funding requested by Biden for Ukraine and threatened to force a partial government shutdown as they seek to strengthen security on the US-Mexico border, while blaming the president’s policy on the cause of the influx of undocumented immigrants.
Biden, a Democrat, is seeking to reform the US immigration system with a bill at the start of his term that Republicans oppose. The White House is open to new restrictions on who can seek asylum in the United States and expanding deportation authority, but many Democrats oppose such measures.
Johnson told reporters before the meeting that he would press Biden to explain the end of the war between Russia and Ukraine and the liability of US funding to support Kiev.
“But before we talk about Ukraine, I will tell the president what I told you all and what we tell the Americans: border, border, border. We have to take care of our own house. before talking about doing anything,” Johnson said.
A Johnson aide said the Republican agreed on the need to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin but considered securing the US border a more urgent priority.
Biden requested $61.4 billion in additional funding to provide weapons to Ukraine and replenish US stockpiles. It was part of an “additional” request that also included $14.3 billion for Israel and $13,600 for journalists, White House spokesman John Kirby said.
“As the president is well aware, we continue to negotiate in good faith and in a bipartisan manner in the Senate, with Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, on the national security supplement, which is clear and includes money for border security.”