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White House rebuffs Johnson request for meeting with Biden: ‘What is there to negotiate?’

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The White House threw cold water on the prospect of a sit-down between President Biden and Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), arguing Wednesday that there’s nothing to negotiate and the Speaker should bring a bipartisan national security funding bill up for a vote.

“What is there to negotiate? Really, truly, what is the one-on-one negotiation about, when he’s been presented with exactly what he asked for?” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a briefing with reporters.

“He’s negotiating with himself. He’s killing bills on his own,” she continued. “And if he were to put that bill that just came out of the Senate — the national security supplemental that doesn’t have border security in it because he said he didn’t want it, he changed his mind — it would pass. It would pass in a bipartisan way. 

“So, it just doesn’t make sense to us,” Jean-Pierre added.

Johnson told reporters Wednesday he’s been requesting a meeting with Biden “for weeks.”

“A month I’ve been asking to sit down with the president to talk about the border and talk about national security, and that meeting has not been granted,” Johnson said. “And I’m going to continue to insist on that, because they’re very serious issues that need to be addressed. And if the Speaker of the House can’t meet with the president of the United States, that’s a problem.”

Jean-Pierre noted Biden met with Johnson and other congressional leaders at the White House in January to discuss aid for Ukraine in its war against Russia, as well as other national security funding the administration had pushed for.

Johnson had maintained aid for Ukraine would need to be passed with significant upgrades to border security.

The Senate earlier this month unveiled a bipartisan border security package to go along with national security funds for Ukraine, Israel and Indo-Pacific allies. But Johnson declared that bill dead on arrival in the House, instead urging Biden to take executive action.

The Senate this week overwhelmingly passed national security funding without the border provisions, but Johnson again signaled the bill would not receive a vote in the House because it lacked desired border provisions.

Biden, in remarks from the White House on Tuesday, pleaded with the House to put the legislation up for a vote, arguing it would likely receive bipartisan support. Opposing the legislation, Biden said, “is playing into Putin’s hands.”

Deputy press secretary Andrew Bates suggested in a statement Thursday that Johnson might be “feeling heat and grasping for an escape hatch” in the wake of a Democratic victory in a special House election in New York and after some members said the national security supplemental would pass if it were put up for a vote.

“The answer is to stop politicizing American national security; to stop putting Vladimir Putin and Tehran over NATO, Ukraine, and our interests in the Indo-Pacific,” Bates said. “While politics may make the Speaker feel compelled to side with dictators, this is still a democracy and he owes the country a clean vote.”

Updated at 6:01 p.m.


Source: The Hill

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