Republican US House Speaker Mike Johnson announced a new stopgap spending bill that aims to prevent a government shutdown. The bill does not include funding for aid to Ukraine or Israel. Johnson, along with many other Republicans, believed that the issue of providing aid to Kiev should be discussed separately, and they are reluctant to continue supporting the embattled country.
The temporary spending proposal is a two-step plan, also known as a continuing resolution, that was introduced just a week before the looming shutdown deadline on November 17. The bill seeks to extend funding for some government agencies until January 19 and others until February 2. This move is intended to prevent a government shutdown that could result in many US civilian workers and military personnel not receiving their pay.
Johnson emphasized that the stopgap measure would enable House Republicans to fight for conservative victories and avoid the last-minute introduction of massive, loaded-up spending bills before the Christmas recess. Furthermore, he insisted that separating the bill from supplemental funding debates would put the GOP in the best position to fight for fiscal responsibility, oversight over Ukraine aid, and meaningful policy changes at the US southern border.
In response to this proposal, the White House dismissed it as extreme, with Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre describing it as a recipe for more Republican chaos and more shutdowns. This comes after the Biden administration had previously requested Congress to approve a $106 billion assistance package for Ukraine and Israel, as well as funding for the southern US border. However, the GOP opposed the measure, with Johnson signaling that his party wanted to bifurcate the issues of Israel and Ukraine.
Moreover, the GOP-controlled House passed a stand-alone $14.3 billion bill to support Israel’s fight against the Palestinian armed group Hamas. However, this bill was blocked by Democrats in the Senate. Many Republicans have been critical of providing assistance to Ukraine, questioning the lack of clear strategic goals and accountability. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has reiterated Washington’s commitment to supporting Kiev in its fight against Moscow.
As the White House warned that money in existing programs for Ukraine is running out, they urged Congress to approve new funding to send an important message to the world.
Overall, the path to prevent a government shutdown is rife with political disagreements and debates, with both sides endeavoring to navigate the situation without sacrificing their respective priorities. The possibility of a shutdown poses a significant threat to the livelihoods of many Americans, and it is crucial for both the legislative and executive branches to find common ground in order to avert this scenario.