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Ukraine aid still stalled as US Congressional leaders reach deal to avoid gov’t shutdown

US Congressional leaders negotiated deal for temporary funds averting federal agency shutdowns, but vital emergency assistance for Ukraine still lacks House action for approval.
Congress of the United States.
The Congress of the United States. Photo:
Ukraine aid still stalled as US Congressional leaders reach deal to avoid gov’t shutdown

Late on 28 February, US Congressional leaders reached a tentative agreement to prevent a government shutdown before the looming deadline, but there is no immediate plan to approve the $95 billion emergency national security funds for Ukraine, Israel, and other US allies, PBS 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.

The new plan proposes to temporarily fund one set of federal agencies until 8 March and another until 22 March, while Congress works on passing legislation to fund the government for the rest of the budget year. The House and Senate must now vote to approve this deal with its temporary funds before March 1 deadline when some federal funds expire.

The Senate has approved Biden’s request for $95 billion in emergency funds, with $60+ billion earmarked for Ukraine to address its military’s munitions shortage in the war against Russia. But the bill has been stalled in the House, as House Speaker Mike Johnson evaded immediate action on the aid. About half of this funding is aimed at boosting US defense manufacturing for the war effort.

As Congress negotiators rush to finalize a federal spending plan, the world, particularly Ukraine and other American allies, is closely watching House Speaker Mike Johnson’s indecision on emergency funding. He faces a critical challenge to prevent a government shutdown by the deadline, with the $95 billion emergency aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Indo-Pacific allies still pending.

US President Joe Biden, aiming to expedite an agreement, convened key leaders on 27 February. Biden, with Vice President Kamala Harris, held discussions with Congress leaders – Schumer, Johnson, McConnell, and Jeffries – in the Oval Office to push for progress on Ukraine aid.

“The meeting was something of a pile-on as Johnson, who has endorsed Donald Trump in the Republican presidential race, was the only leader reluctant to help Ukraine as prioritizes a US-Mexico border security deal despite rejecting an earlier proposal that collapsed. Biden pulled Johnson aside for a private conversation,” PBS wrote.

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