Biden Stresses Ukraine Aid As Congress Approves Stopgap Bill To Avert Government Shutdown
GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy knew Friday night that he might have to do something he had avoided for months if he wanted to avert a government shutdown.
He was going to have to rely on Democrats. With just a little more than 24 hours to figure out a way to keep funding the government, the speaker quietly filed a new bill.
At a House GOP meeting in the morning, he announced he would largely embrace bipartisan legislation in the Democratic-led Senate to keep the government open through November 17.
There Was One Catch, However
The short-term bill would cut out aid for Ukraine while leaving in disaster relief funding. Washington has been a major supporter of Kyiv as it defends itself against aggression.
Joe Biden has pressed congressional Republicans to back a deal to provide more aid to Ukraine, stressing support for the country cannot be interrupted “under any circumstances”.
Asked if he could trust McCarthy to honour deals, Biden said: “We just made one about Ukraine, so we will find out,” referring to Republican promises of passing a separate bill on the issue.
“There Has To Be An Adult In The Room”
McCarthy’s move was an act of defiance against the hardliners who opposed a short-term bill. Some even threatened to force a vote to overthrow him if he passed a bill with Democratic votes.
But the speaker’s decision allowed the House to approve a slightly revised bill to keep the government funded, and the Senate swallowing it just in time to keep the lights on.
Moments after the House passed the bill, McCarthy said: “If somebody wants to make a motion against me, bring it,” adding “there has to be an adult in the room.”
The Gamble Paid Off
McCarthy’s defiant move paid off when 209 Democrats joined 126 Republicans to approve the stopgap measure. Just one Democrat, Mike Quigley of Illinois, voted no.
On Sunday, without referring directly to the US bill, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said nothing would weaken his country’s fight against Russia’s brutality.
Ukraine Defence Minister Rustem Umerov said he had received reassurances about further assistance in a telephone call with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.