House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is reportedly planning to leave out additional Ukraine aid from a stopgap spending bill that Congress must pass this month, a tactic that would threaten the Biden administration’s requested money for the war-torn nation and could set up a clash with the White House and Senate.
Congressional leaders are looking to pass a short-term spending bill to prevent a government shutdown after September 30, when current federal funding expires. The Biden administration has asked for $44 billion in emergency supplemental funding, including $24 billion in additional Ukraine aid, $16 billion in emergency disaster relief and $4 billion for border security. McCarthy reportedly may leave out the Ukraine aid from the stopgap bill and instead hold a standalone vote on that funding.
Such a move would allow House GOP members to express their opposition to providing additional aid for Ukraine. It could also allow McCarthy to press for more than the $4 billion in additional border money sought by the White House or other policy demands in exchange for funding the war effort.
"McCarthy wants changes to border policies as well as an increase in overall border security money in return for additional Ukraine aid,’ Punchbowl News reports, citing sources familiar with House GOP discussions.
But the White House is opposed to splitting off Ukraine aid and doing so would likely complicate passage of the stopgap spending bill and supplemental funding, raising the odds of a government shutdown.
“Lives are at stake across a wide range of urgent, bipartisan priorities for the American people that are addressed in President Biden’s supplemental funding request – a request that honors the funding commitments he and both parties in both chambers made to the American people,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates told CNN. “Like Senate Republicans, Speaker McCarthy should keep his word about government funding. And he should do so in a way that acts on these pressing issues – including fentanyl, national security, and disaster response – rather than break his promise and cave to the most extreme members of his conference agitating for a baseless impeachment stunt and shutdown.”
McCarthy’s strategy would also highlight divisions over Ukraine within the Republican Party. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday urged Republicans to continue supporting the effort against Russia, which he describes as a vital national security concern. “It is certainly not the time to go wobbly,” McConnell said.
The bottom line: This could get chaotic, but party leaders still want to avoid a shutdown. The House returns on Tuesday.