Just in time, President Joe Biden approved a temporary funding bill on Saturday to prevent a shutdown and maintain government operations for 45 days.
He completed a tumultuous day in which many in Washington were captivated, but his actions put the White House’s main objective of providing assistance to Ukraine at risk.
The Biden administration in Washington, D.C. was also surprised on Saturday morning when Speaker Kevin McCarthy unexpectedly changed his plans and declared that he would propose a bill with no additional provisions to finance the government until November 17, 2023.
The aides were not particularly shocked. They had expected the confrontation over the government shutdown to end in this manner eventually – the only question was whether McCarthy would face consequences before or after the funding deadline.
The result was satisfactory to them as well. In addition to financing the government, the legislation also provided $16 billion for disaster assistance and, according to a White House representative, prevents “any proposed significant reductions to crucial domestic programs in recent days.”
However, the ultimate decision did not incorporate assistance for Ukraine, and its lack was not only a setback for Biden, but also for Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The leader of Ukraine had recently discussed with the president and legislators to once more advocate for additional support to defend Kyiv against Moscow.
In the administration, assistants tried to minimize the omission. A White House representative stated that Speaker McCarthy has expressed his backing for assistance to Ukraine and is expected to introduce a separate bill soon.
Additionally, Biden emphasized his belief that there will be another effort to approve aid for Ukraine in the near future.
Biden stated that although the Speaker and most of Congress have consistently backed Ukraine, the current agreement does not include any additional funding to sustain that support. He emphasized the importance of not halting American aid to Ukraine and expressed confidence in the Speaker’s promise to secure the necessary assistance during this crucial time.
It was difficult to determine the accuracy of the information, as it could have been influenced by bias or hopefulness. The White House did not confirm receiving a guarantee from McCarthy to bring a proposal to a vote. However, two officials acknowledged that McCarthy has not explicitly stated he would not support aid for Ukraine. The belief at the White House was that including the aid in a government funding bill would provoke strong opposition from within McCarthy’s party. However, this does not mean he could not address the issue separately.
Senator Chuck Schumer, leader of the majority in the Senate, gave reassurances that providing aid to Ukraine is still a top concern.
He stated after the Senate’s approval that we will continue to advocate for increased economic and security support for Ukraine. Both political parties agree on providing aid to Ukraine, and it is crucial for the safety of America and the promotion of democracy globally.
There is definitely a desire among Republicans to make that a reality.
Earlier in the evening, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that the majority of Senate Republicans are dedicated to supporting our allies on the front lines. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), the highest ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed his belief that assistance for Ukraine will be incorporated into the year-long budget that Congress is scheduled to finalize in the near future.
The House GOP is a unique entity. There was no response from McCarthy’s office when asked for comment. However, according to POLITICO, on Saturday it was reported that he was willing to include Ukraine aid in the stopgap funding bill but could not finish the wording in time.
As the legislation moved to the Senate for consideration on Saturday evening, it was widely anticipated on Capitol Hill that a vote related to Ukraine would take place in the following week due to strong backing among Senate members.
Hakeem Jeffries, the leader of the minority party in the House, was questioned about the absence of new funds for Ukraine in the bill. He stated that action needed to be taken on this matter and hinted at a potential vote on Monday.