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Congress Nears Deal to Prevent Govt Shutdown and Send Aid to Ukraine

Congress Nears Deal to Prevent Govt Shutdown and Send Aid to Ukraine

Congressional negotiators were nearing a deal on a bill on Monday to provide Ukraine with billions of dollars in emergency aid, as well as fund the U.S. government through September 30th and provide money to address COVID-19.

Lawmakers are racing against a looming deadline (Friday at midnight) for passing the sweeping bill before existing funds are exhausted. Failure to meet the deadline would either require another stop-gap funding bill or force partial government shutdowns during a time of international crisis. Democrats hope to use strong public support for helping Ukraine to pressure Republicans into passing the multipart bill funding the government after four bills this fiscal year that extended the previous year’s funding levels temporarily.

TOPSHOT – A man walks in front of a destroyed building after a Russian missile attack in the town of Vasylkiv, near Kyiv, on February 27, 2022. – Ukraine’s foreign minister said on February 27, that Kyiv would not buckle at talks with Russia over its invasion, accusing President Vladimir Putin of seeking to increase “pressure” by ordering his nuclear forces on high alert. (Photo by DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images)

 

The White House had requested $10 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine, which is trying to fend off an invasion by Russia. On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a “desperate plea” for help directly to members of the U.S. Congress.

Democratic and Republican leaders were hoping to unveil the legislation as early as Tuesday but stressed that talks were not complete. Republicans said they were concerned about spending new money on the COVID-19 pandemic, insisting that billions of dollars allocated last year remained unspent. Democrats also were trying to incorporate the unfinished parts of U.S. President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda and respond to voters’ demands to address inflation. In his State of the Union address last week, the President sketched out a more moderate path following a year of aggressive spending of around $3 trillion to tame the COVID-19 pandemic and invest in infrastructure improvements.

Senate Republicans, however, could stand in the way of some of these initiatives, citing rising budget deficits. That could prompt Democrats to revisit using a special procedure known as “reconciliation” to pass some legislation without Republican support.

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The Rules Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday and hope to bring the bill to a vote on the House floor no later than Wednesday.

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