US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy has called for any assistance to Ukraine to be removed from a stopgap US spending bill in order to avoid a government shutdown. The deadline for lawmakers to agree on the federal budget is Saturday, and failure to do so could have severe consequences, including delays in payments for government employees. However, McCarthy believes that if the Senate includes Ukraine in the spending bill, it could cause “real problems” by prioritizing Ukraine over America.
On Friday, the House failed to pass a bill aimed at extending government funding beyond September 30. The bill was rejected in a 232-198 vote, with all Democrats and 21 fellow Republicans opposing it. McCarthy suggested that a clean bill without Ukraine could have been passed.
McCarthy reiterated his opposition to the inclusion of Ukraine in the bill, describing it as “misguided” and having “no path forward.” He warned that prioritizing Ukraine over America could lead to serious consequences.
Despite the failure to pass the bill, McCarthy assured that the House would continue working “around the clock” to find a solution and keep the government open. More votes on the issue are expected to take place on Saturday.
Support for Ukraine had already been reduced from $25 billion to $6.2 billion due to negotiations between lawmakers. However, some Republican hardliners believe that aid to Ukraine should be completely dropped from the budget.
The White House National Security Council spokesman, John Kirby, warned that if Congress fails to pass a new funding bill, the Pentagon could only support Ukraine for a few more weeks. This highlights the urgency of reaching an agreement on the budget.
Last week, McCarthy rejected Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s request to address the House during his visit to the US, similar to the previous year. Instead, the two had closed-door talks. McCarthy had demanded that Zelensky explain how the money provided by Washington had been used and what the plan for victory was in the conflict with Moscow.
In recent interviews, Zelensky expressed concerns about weakening support from the West and the decreasing willingness of countries to finance Ukraine. Ukraine’s Finance Minister Sergey Marchenko admitted that the number of donors willing to support Ukraine was shrinking.
In light of these challenges, the head of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, Aleksey Danilov, called on the West to provide a clear timeline for its support to Ukraine.
In conclusion, the pressure to reach a consensus on the federal budget is mounting as the deadline approaches. McCarthy’s call to remove assistance to Ukraine from the spending bill reflects concerns about prioritizing Ukraine over domestic matters. The ongoing negotiations and votes on the issue will determine the fate of key programs and government employees’ payments. The situation highlights the importance of balancing international aid with the needs of the American people.