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US President Biden convenes congressional leaders to address Ukraine aid and impending US gov’t shutdown

Biden convenes urgent White House meeting with US congressional leaders to discuss critical Ukraine funding and avoiding a federal government shutdown ahead of the looming March 2 deadline.
US President Joseph Biden. Credit: Ukraine’s Presidential Office
US President Biden convenes congressional leaders to address Ukraine aid and impending US gov’t shutdown

On 27 February, US President Biden convened an urgent meeting at the White House with congressional leaders to address two pressing issues – providing additional funding for Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s invasion and avoiding a partial federal government shutdown. With a shutdown deadline looming on 2 March, Biden pressed the leaders to break through a deadlocked spending debate, The Washington Post reports.

The US aid to Ukraine has been stalled in Congress for months, benefiting Russia on the battleground as Ukraine’s stocks of artillery munitions and missiles deplete without the much-needed supplies from the US.

Biden’s meeting, involving Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Mike Johnson, and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, occurs at a crucial time amid Johnson’s opposition to Ukraine aid, CNN said.

US lawmakers have been deadlocked for months on pairing the Ukraine aid with new US immigration restrictions. By the end of 2023, the Pentagon had run out of funding for Ukraine and stopped sending Kyiv weapons and ammunition, which worsened the situation on the front for Ukraine, benefitting Russia.

In Ukraine, security officials say that forces are dangerously low on ammunition as Russia presses renewed attacks. Without quick Congressional action to approve $60+ billion in US military assistance, Russia could gain the upper hand in the war. The capture of the Ukrainian stronghold of Avdiivka earlier this month highlighted the decisive role of US-provided arms in the ongoing war.

Senate Majority Leader Schumer stressed the urgent need to extend government funding and support Ukraine, highlighting it as a moral obligation. The impending shutdown threatens US essential services across several departments, with funding expiring soon. Despite agreement on an overall spending cap, policy disputes persist, risking a shutdown that could impact critical services like food stamps and transportation.

In early February, the Senate agreed to pair $60+ billion in Ukraine funding with a domestic issue – new US-Mexico border restrictions. Senate Republicans, who generally support Ukraine aid, demanded this before approval. However, opposition from former President Trump led Senate Republicans to reconsider, putting future American support for Ukraine in doubt, according to WP. House Speaker Mike Johnson also rejected the Senate bill.

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