McConnell upbeat on avoiding government shutdown after White House talks – live | US Congress

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McConnell: ‘We all agree we need to avoid a government shutdown’

In remarks at the Capitol, the Senate’s Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell signaled he was ready to work with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown.

While he noted that the government would probably get close to hitting its shutdown deadline, he expected lawmakers would be able to find an agreement on keeping the government open beyond Friday:


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Key events

‘I don’t even think he knows what he wants’: White House spokeswoman criticizes House speaker Johnson over border policy

Republican House speaker Mike Johnson has long pressed the Biden administration to take actions to crack down on undocumented migrants crossing the southern border. Yet he also helped kill a bipartisan compromise that would have tightened border security while also approving aid to Ukraine and Israel.

Nonetheless, Johnson reiterated his demand that Biden get tougher on immigration today after meeting at the White House with the president. At her press briefing later in the day, Biden’s spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre was asked what exactly Johnson wants.

“I appreciate the question. I don’t even think he knows what he wants,” Jean-Pierre replied.

The press secretary continued:

You had a bipartisan group of senators coming out of the Senate, working for four months with the White House to put forward a bipartisan piece of legislation that dealt with a … important challenge that we see at the border in immigration. And then so we did that, we’ve moved that forward, we presented it. And we were told no no, we don’t want the border security, we want just the national security supplemental without border security.

Then, the Senate goes back and they pass the national Security supplemental without border security, 70-29 … and the speaker refuses to put that to the floor. So what is it that he really wants here? If you look at the border security deal, that proposal, it has components of what the speaker has been talking about for years. So the question is really for him.


The Senate’s top Republican Mitch McConnell also told reporters he supports holding a trial for Alejandro Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary who House Republicans impeached earlier this month.

Convicting Mayorkas requires approval by a two-thirds majority of senators, which is probably impossible, since Democrats, who have a majority, have rejected the charges against him. They also have not said if they will even bother holding a trial of Mayorkas, or find a way to dismiss the charges without considering them.

McConnell was asked for his thoughts on the matter, and here’s what he had to say:

Reporter: “Sen. Thune just said that he would support a full Senate trial for [DHS Sec.] Alejandro Mayorkas here in the Senate. Do you also support a full Senate trial for Mayorkas?”

Senate Minority Leader McConnell (R-KY): “I think that would be the best way to go forward.”

— The Recount (@therecount) February 27, 2024


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McConnell: ‘We all agree we need to avoid a government shutdown’

In remarks at the Capitol, the Senate’s Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell signaled he was ready to work with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown.

While he noted that the government would probably get close to hitting its shutdown deadline, he expected lawmakers would be able to find an agreement on keeping the government open beyond Friday:


Updated at 

Americans consider immigration to be the most important issue facing the US, according to a new Gallup poll.

The survey found that 28% of respondents cited immigration as the top issue facing the country, up from 20% who said the same a month ago.

It marks the first time immigration has been the most cited problem since 2019, and come as Joe Biden and Donald Trump are set to make separate visits to the US-Mexico border on Thursday.

A separate question in the survey found that a record-high 55% of respondents said that “large numbers of immigrants entering the United States illegally” is a critical threat to US vital interests, up eight points from last year.


Here’s a clip of Republican House speaker Mike Johnson speaking to reporters after meeting with Joe Biden and top congressional leaders at the White House.

Johnson called the talks “frank and honest” and said his primary concern is addressing migration along the US-Mexico border.

.@SpeakerJohnson following White House meeting: “It was frank and honest…then I had a one-on-one for a period of time with the president, just he and I in the Oval Office…it’s time for action…we will get the government funded and we’ll keep working on that.”

— CSPAN (@cspan) February 27, 2024

Erum Salam

Erum Salam

A top Republican in Virginia has apologized for misgendering a state senate Democrat in a row that caused legislative activity in the chamber to be temporarily suspended.

“We are all equal under the law. And so I apologize, I apologize, I apologize, and I would hope that everyone would understand there is no intent to offend but that we would also give each other the ability to forgive each other,” the lieutenant governor, Winsome Earle-Sears, said in an address to the state senate on Monday.

It all started when Danica Roem, 39, a state senator from Prince William county and the US’s first openly transgender person to serve in any state legislature, had asked Earle-Sears, 59, how many votes were needed to pass a bill on prescription drug prices with an emergency clause.

“Madame President, how many votes would it take to pass this bill with the emergency clause?” Roem asked Earle-Sears, who was presiding over a legislative session at the time.

Earle-Sears responded: “Yes, sir, that would be 32.”

Roem walked out of the room after being misgendered. Earle-Sears initially refused to apologize for the mistake but finally did so after two separate recesses.

Joan E Greve

Joan E Greve

Congressman Rashida Tlaib, a progressive Democrat of Michigan, said she was “proud” to cast a ballot for “uncommitted” in her state’s Democratic primary today.

Progressive Democrats in Michigan have urged supporters to vote “uncommitted” as a means of protesting against the war in Gaza, calling on Joe Biden to do more to bring about a ceasefire.

“We must protect our democracy. We must make sure that our government is about us, about the people,” Tlaib said in a video shared to social media.

Tlaib noted that a recent poll showed 74% of self-identified Democrats in Michigan support a ceasefire in Gaza, and she accused Biden of “not hearing us”.

“This is the way we can use our democracy to say: listen. Listen to Michigan. Listen to the families right now that have been directly impacted, but also listen to the majority of Americans who are saying enough. No more wars, no more using our dollars to fund a genocide. No more,” Tlaib said.

“So please, take your family members. Use our democratic process to speak up about your core values [and] where you want to see our country go.”


The day so far

Joe Biden met with Congress’s leaders in the Oval Office to find a way to avoid a government shutdown that is set to start on Saturday and would “damage the economy significantly”, in the president’s words. The Senate’s Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the negotiations were “making good progress”, and noted that the group pressed Republican House speaker Mike Johnson to allow a vote on Ukraine aid, leading to “intense” discussions. Johnson was reportedly noncommittal after the meeting on whether he’d do that.

Here’s what else has happened today so far:

  • Senate Democrats will tomorrow try to pass a bill to protect IVF care, following the Alabama supreme court’s ruling against the procedure.

  • Rightwing House Republicans accused Johnson and his deputies of having “NO PLAN TO FIGHT” the Democrats over government spending.

  • Florida’s Republican-dominated legislature has pulled a “fetal personhood” bill after the Alabama ruling on IVF care.


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CNN reports that Republican House speaker Mike Johnson gave a similar recounting of his meeting with Joe Biden, Congress’s top Democrats and the Senate’s Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell.

The biggest question, which Johnson still has not answered, is if and when he will allow a vote on new aid for Ukraine, and what House Republicans might want in return. Here’s more, from CNN:

Speaking to reporters, Speaker Mike Johnson calls the WH meeting “frank and honest”

Says he also had a “one-on-one” meeting with Biden

Says he pressed Biden on need for border plan

“The first priority of the country is our border and making it secure.”

Johnson says “House is…

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 27, 2024


Schumer says ‘making good progress’ to avoid shutdown, ‘intense’ negotiations with Johnson on Ukraine aid

The congressional leaders who met with Joe Biden at the White House made “good progress” on avoiding a government shutdown, the Senate’s Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said after the meeting.

The group, which also included Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries, also pressed the House speaker, Republican Mike Johnson, to support further aid to Ukraine, a discussion Schumer noted was particularly “intense”.

“We’re making good progress and we’re hopeful we can get this done quickly,” Schumer said, adding that Johnson “said unequivocally he wants to avoid a government shutdown”.

McConnell along with Biden and Congress’s top Democrats are all supporters of aid to Ukraine, but Johnson has waffled, even turning down a package of hardline immigration policy changes Democrats had agreed to in order to win Republican support for Kyiv.

“The meeting on Ukraine was one of the most intense I’ve ever encountered in my many meetings in the Oval Office,” Schumer said. “We said to the speaker, ‘get it done.’”


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While the Republican House speaker Mike Johnson is at the White House to negotiate with Joe Biden, a member of his party is trying to get Joe Biden declared too old to serve, the Guardian’s Martin Pengelly reports:

A Colorado Republican introduced a congressional resolution calling for Kamala Harris to invoke the 25th amendment to the US constitution and remove Joe Biden because he is too old.

The resolution from the US House member Ken Buck has little chance of success.

John Dean, who was White House counsel under Richard Nixon, the president who resigned under pressure from his own party, said: “Just when you think there may be a few normal Republicans, you discover they are all crazy.

“This man [Buck] is leaving public office. He is the person with the cognitive problem not Joe Biden.”

Section four of the 25th amendment provides for the replacement, by the vice-president, of a president deemed incapable. It has never been used. Calls for its use intensified in 2021, after the deadly January 6 attack on Congress, which Donald Trump incited in an attempt to stay in the Oval Office.


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