Congress Dodges Shutdown, Yet Stalemate Persists on Ukraine Aid Issue

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, departs following a news conference on the reintroduction of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024.

Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress successfully avoided a federal government shutdown with a last-minute compromise this week.

However, they are still at an impasse regarding additional military aid for Ukraine and Israel, as well as stricter immigration regulations.

Congress faced a Friday midnight deadline to reauthorize government spending or risk several federal departments shutting down.

On Wednesday, prominent lawmakers such as Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate majority leader, and Mike Johnson, the Republican House speaker, declared their consensus on the need for bipartisan cooperation in funding the government.

The next day, a short-term spending measure was approved by lawmakers and signed by Joe Biden on Friday.

However, reaching a similar agreement has been difficult when it comes to financing Ukraine’s ongoing defense against Russia’s invasion and Israel’s attack on Gaza.

In the previous month, a Senate agreement that aimed to combine military aid with measures to address undocumented immigration from Mexico was blocked by Republicans.

This move was seen as a strategy to allow Donald Trump to focus on his tough stance on immigration reform as he neared the Republican presidential nomination.

Following Senate approval, a $95bn bill was passed to provide aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan without altering border policy.

However, Johnson has declined to bring it to a vote in the House. Meanwhile, the ongoing government funding situation is still unresolved.

The funding deadlines for the two bills authorizing spending have been extended to March 8 and March 22 following this week’s agreement.

Swift Votes Promised Amid Concerns Over Ukraine Aid

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, walks to the Senate Chamber at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. The House passed a temporary funding bill to avert a Saturday partial US government shutdown, sending the bill to the Senate for a vote as soon as Thursday night.


In a statement released together, the House and Senate leaders announced that legislators will be voting on the 12 individual appropriations bills that fund federal departments before the specified dates.

As the invasion by Russia continues into its third year, support for Kyiv’s cause has diminished among the American right.

Despite having prominent supporters within the GOP, such as the party’s leading senator, Mitch McConnell, Democrats have been the most vocal in expressing concern about the delay in aid while Russia makes progress in the country.

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