Biden Claims He’s Open To Meeting With Speaker Johnson

President Joe Biden said this week that he’d be willing to sit down with House Speaker Mike Johnson to discuss the foreign aid bill that the Senate passed recently.

The bill, which totals about $95 billion, would send money to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, as well as fund humanitarian aid. The Senate passed the bill last week, but there doesn’t look to be a path for it to be passed through the House.

In fact, Johnson even said before the Senate passed the bill that it would be dead on arrival in Congress’ lower chamber.

On Monday, Biden said he’d be willing to talk with Johnson about the bill. As he responded when asked about the legislation:

“I’d be happy to meet with him if he has anything to say.”

One of Johnson’s spokesmen, Raj Shah, posted on the social media platform X that Johnson welcomes the president’s “reversal and openness to meeting with Speaker Johnson about the best path forward for securing the nation. It’s long overdue.”

He continued:

“We look forward to hearing from the WH when he’ll be available for a 1-on-1 meeting that the Speaker has requested for weeks.”

Johnson has been highly critical of the package, mainly due to the fact that it doesn’t include any security measures to protect America’s borders. Funding for that was left out of the bill after some Republicans and Democrats in the Senate blocked a larger immigration package from advancing.

In a statement, Johnson said:

“In the absence of having received any single border policy change from the Senate, the House will have to continue to work on its own will on these important matters.”

At the same time, Republicans in the House have intimated that a sit-down between the GOP leader of the House and the president could eventually lead to a meeting of the minds and a legislative package that would stand a chance of passing through Congress.

NBC News spoke to House Majority Leader Steve Scalise on Tuesday, and he commented on the matter:

“Ultimately, the two of them (Biden and Johnson) could come to an agreement that can become law. And yet the president refuses to even meet. So, the president can’t say he’s serious about Ukraine or the border when he refuses to meet with the speaker so they can come to an agreement on this issue.”

Despite Biden’s suggestion that he’d be happy to speak with Johnson, it doesn’t appear that a one-on-one meeting is on tap any time soon. On Wednesday, Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said Biden’s denied multiple requests for such meetings in the past.

She told reporters:

“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? So, he’s negotiating with himself. He’s killing bills on his own.”

Biden also said on Monday that he believes Republicans in the House are “making a big mistake not responding” to the foreign aid bill, considering the recent death of Alexei Navalny, the opposition leader in Russia.