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Senate announces short-term deal to avert government shutdown, but future in House unclear

Jacob Bogage 2023-09-26
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WASHINGTON - Senate Democrats and Republicans announced a short-term funding deal Tuesday night that would fund the government for six weeks, while including additional funding for Ukraine and domestic disaster relief. The deal, reached days before the government would shut down on Saturday, would still need to overcome several procedural hurdles before full Senate approval. It would then move to the House, where its future is uncertain. The short-term deal, called a continuing resolution, allocates $4.49 billion for the Defense Department's effort in Ukraine, alongside $1.65 billion in additional funding for the war-torn country, which will remain available until Sept. 30, 2025. Combined, the more-than $6 billion in funds adds up to far less than the White House's request for $20.6 billion in Ukraine funding. But if the plan becomes law, Congress would almost certainly pursue additional funding for Ukraine later this fall. On the Senate floor Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the Senate's short-term bill "will continue to fund the government at present levels, while maintaining our commit to Ukraine's security and humanitarian needs while also ensuring those impacted by natural disasters across the country begin to get the resources they need." The future of U.S. funding for Ukraine's defense against Russia has splintered Republicans on the Hill and set up a collision between the House and Senate as they look to avert a government shutdown. On Tuesday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said funding for Ukraine should be dealt in a supplemental request and not tacked onto a stopgap bill. "I don't quite understand, when you have all these people across the country talking about the challenges happening in America today, that people would go and say, 'Oh, we need to do Ukraine and ignore what's happening along our border,' " he said. McCarthy and House Republican leaders have spent the past several days raising issues about border security in the context of what should be included in any short-term funding deal. House Republicans have all but punted on a short-term solution that would keep the government open beyond Sept. 30, choosing instead to focus on long-term appropriations bills. McCarthy has been unable to unite his conference behind a short-term plan that would both appease his hard-right flank and ensure he keeps his leadership position. GOP leadership focused its energies Tuesday on long-term appropriations bills, setting up an evening vote to advance four measures that would fund defense, agriculture, the State Department and homeland security for a full fiscal year. GOP leaders hope that moving forward on 2024 fiscal year bills, a key demand of hard-liners opposed to a short-term solution, will eventually shake enough support lose for a stopgap deal with the Senate. If the Senate successfully advances the stopgap measure, the bill will go through the Senate amendment process. Sen. Paul Rand (R-Ky.), who opposes further funding for Ukraine, said he would try to slow down the process to get the bill on the Senate floor for a final vote, which could stretch beyond the midnight Saturday deadline to keep the government open. However, McCarthy is unlikely to bring the Senate proposal up for a vote, since it would require Democratic support to pass, according to multiple Republican aides who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal party dynamics. Members on the hard right, including many within the staunchly conservative House Freedom Caucus, have said that relying on Democrats to move the stopgap bill would probably result in a Republican lawmaker filing a motion to remove McCarthy from his speakership. Ahead of Tuesday's House votes, a defiant McCarthy appeared confident that he had the votes to advance the four appropriations bills. For the last week, McCarthy and his allies have criticized to GOP holdouts by arguing that they are the ones working with Democrats, since they're voting alongside the party to block appropriations bills. "It'd be concerning to me that there would be people in the Republican Party that will take the position of President Biden against what the rest of Americans want," McCarthy said Tuesday. "I don't understand how, at the end of the day, they'd would stay in that lane."

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