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White House: Border talks ‘going in the right direction’

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday that border talks are heading in the right direction as negotiators have been meeting ahead of the Christmas holiday recess.

“It is going in the right direction, we believe, because those conversations continue and that’s what matters as we talk about the border and border security and moving forward with making sure we get the supplemental done,” she told reporters.

Jean-Pierre wouldn’t provide a timeline for a deal but said President Biden is in “regular contact, regular touch” with congressional leaders while his staff went to the Capitol on Tuesday and Wednesday to work out a deal.

“We just know it’s going in the right direction and that’s what matters,” Jean-Pierre said.

A border deal would unlock aid for Ukraine, a top priority for the president. The White House has been stepping up the pressure on lawmakers to provide more support to Ukraine’s war effort, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky came to Washington this week to make a personal plea.

Jean-Pierre stressed that she thinks the talks are “going in a productive place.”

“We believe that conversations, the fact that it’s continuing, it’s encouraging. And we’re seeing progress and that’s because obviously of the president, we believe, continuing to certainly negotiate, have those conversations,” she said.

She attributed the fact the talks have been continuing to Biden’s negotiating skills and willingness to work across the aisle to strike a deal. And, she noted the White House has also been in touch with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

“It’s going in the right way, we understand that we’re going to have to find a bipartisan compromise to get this done and we’re talking about the policy side of it and the funding side of it as we talk about the border,” Jean-Pierre said.

Senate negotiations on Wednesday evening appeared increasingly upbeat about the progress they were making towards a border deal before leaving for Christmas.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and other top White House officials huddled in the Capitol on Wednesday evening with Senate negotiators, including Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), along with top aides to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Murphy, leaving that meeting Wednesday evening, told reporters the negotiators continue to make “progress.”

Schumer is faced with a key decision over whether to have the Senate return Monday to continue work on the border, Biden’s larger supplemental request and military nominations. 

The Senate was scheduled to adjourn this week for three weeks. The House is expected to leave later this week, with Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) saying Tuesday he would consider calling members back if a deal is struck. 

Source: The Hill

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