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Biden, congressional leaders sound optimistic on funding government

An Oval Office meeting also focused on funding for Ukraine, where officials say U.S. help is needed urgently

President Biden and congressional leaders appear to be closing in on a deal that could keep the government open past the weekend - but lawmakers don't seem any closer on a breakthrough to send more U.S. aid to Ukraine, even as supplies on the front lines of the war against Russian invaders dwindle.

Facing a Saturday deadline, Biden and leaders in the House and Senate said Tuesday that they hoped to pass legislation to avert a looming partial shutdown, after what lawmakers described as a productive and intense Oval Office meeting on federal spending.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said after the gathering that top leaders of both parties in Congress were "optimistic" about passing new measures to prevent the partial shutdown, set to begin at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, which would sideline a vast swath of vital services and federal workers. The closure would force critical services at the Department of Transportation offline. Food stamp programs could quickly run low on funding. Housing assistance for millions of families would fall into jeopardy. Another, larger shutdown cliff awaits just a week later, when funds for the rest of the government will also expire unless Congress acts.


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