Tense Showdown in the Oval Office: McConnell's Warning to Johnson on Ukraine

  • by:
  • Source: Wayne Dupree
  • 02/27/2024
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) cornered House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) in a “intense” White House meeting with President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Democratic congressional leaders

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) informed reporters that the government shutdown-prevention meeting was unusually intense. The unified front demanding quick Ukraine help fueled it.

“The conversation on Ukraine was one of the most heated I have ever experienced in my numerous Oval Office meetings,” Schumer stated.

He stated that McConnell spoke first, then the four others.

The five “made it so obvious how crucial this was to the United States,” Schumer added. “We could not delay this crucial matter for any amount of time, since we would surely lose the war.

He said, “And so we said to the speaker, ‘Get it done,'” This is one of the instances I informed him, ‘I’ve been around here a long time. Maybe four or five times, history is watching, and if you do not do the right thing, whatever the politics, you will regret it. I told him two years from now and every year after that because he controls it. In his hands.”

Jeffries agreed with Schumer: “It was a heated meeting. The meeting seemed sincere.”

Johnson called the conversation “frank and honest” before concentrating on the border situation.

According to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and House speaker, Johnson and Biden had a one-on-one following the meeting.

“[Biden] drew him to the side as the other three left,” she added at the White House press conference. “They had a moment.”

McConnell did not attend the post-meeting news conference, but many senators have criticized him for supporting Democratic leaders against Johnson.

“Why is the Senate Republican leader negotiating for the Dem leader?” Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) wrote on X. “If Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell will not push for border security, something must give.”

Johnson supports help to Ukraine, but many House Republicans oppose it to the point where a mutiny might result if he brings it to a vote, jeopardizing his speakership. Most Senate Republicans approve Ukraine assistance, with McConnell leading the way.

Hard-line conservatives in the House say border security must come before help to Ukraine or other nations. The spending measure Johnson would not vote on spends many times more on Ukraine than border security.

Russia's recent military advances, including the capture of Adviivka on Feb. 17, have surprised observers in a conflict that has been a stalemate since Ukrainian gains in September 2022. After that, it made steady inroads across the board, worrying Kyiv and the West. Ukrainian leadership blames Western funding cuts for the defeats, escalating congressional and White House concerns.


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