Updated Feb 27, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Mike Johnson cornered at "intense" White House meeting

House Speaker Mike Johnson, wearing a blue suit, white shirt and red tie and holding a folder, departs the White House.

House Speaker Mike Johnson departs the White House on Feb. 27. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) was confronted from all sides on government funding and Ukraine aid during a White House meeting with President Biden and fellow congressional leaders on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The House is the primary sticking point in Congress' ability to head off a partial government shutdown set to begin March 1.

What they're saying: "It was an intense meeting, it was an honest meeting," House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told reporters.

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Johnson "said unequivocally he wants to avoid a government shutdown."
  • "We made it clear that means not letting any of the ... appropriations bills lapse, which means you need some [stopgap bills]," Schumer added.

Zoom in: Schumer said he and all other attendees, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), pressed Johnson on Ukraine aid as well.

  • "The meeting on Ukraine was one of the most intense I've ever encountered in my many meetings in the Oval Office."

The other side: Johnson told reporters House Republicans have been working in "good faith, around the clock every single day" on a spending deal.

  • "We're very optimistic," he said. "I hope that the other leaders came out here and told you the same."
  • Johnson said the House is "actively pursuing and investigating all the various options" for passing Ukraine aid, but "the first priority of the country is our border."

Go deeper: Scoop: GOP fears snowballing shutdown

Editor's note: This story was updated with comments from Johnson.

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