President Joe Biden Gathers with Congressional Leaders for Crucial Immigration Deal and Ukraine Aid Talks

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and congressional leaders held a meeting at the White House on Wednesday, as the Senate moved closer to a bipartisan immigration deal that would provide critical military aid to Ukraine. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed optimism about reaching an agreement, stating that they anticipate it will come together soon.

The top Democratic negotiator in the talks, Sen. Chris Murphy, also expressed confidence in the progress being made. However, he acknowledged that similar sentiments had been expressed in the past without a successful resolution. Speaker Mike Johnson described the White House meeting as “productive,” emphasizing the need for substantive policy change at the border.

While House conservatives had been urging the Senate to take up their Republican-only border bill, Johnson appeared to soften his demand after the meeting, stating that the specific legislation name was not as important as ensuring meaningful elements were included. He stressed the importance of addressing the border as a top priority.

Schumer characterized the meeting as “very good,” with a large amount of agreement on the need to address both immigration and aid for Ukraine. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan provided persuasive information during the meeting about the urgency of providing additional U.S. assistance to Ukraine.

House Foreign Affairs Chair Michael McCaul shared that Biden recognized the need for significant changes to the border and acknowledged that it was broken and needed to be fixed. McConnell stated that the Senate could potentially vote on the emerging immigration package, which is linked to Ukraine aid, Israel funding, and assistance for Taiwan, next week.

However, the path forward remains uncertain. House members have not been part of the negotiations between senators and administration officials. The possibility of going to conference to hammer out a deal on immigration and border security between the House and Senate is one option.

The meeting between Biden and congressional leaders comes at a pivotal moment in Washington, as leaders grapple with important matters such as passing a short-term stopgap measure to prevent a government shutdown and buying more time to pass appropriations bills.

In addition to Biden, Schumer, and McConnell, other attendees at the White House meeting included House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate committees overseeing appropriations, foreign affairs, military, and intelligence matters.

The goal of the negotiations is to give the executive branch more tools for border management while upholding the nation’s values as a nation of immigrants. As the complex area of American statute, it is not surprising that resolving the final few issues and translating them into text is taking time.

This article was written by Scott Wong, Sahil Kapur, Frank Thorp V, with contributions from Kate Santaliz, Kyle Stewart, Ryan Nobles, Tara Prindiville, Brennan Leach, and Julie Tsirkin.