Politics

Ukraine aid backers still see path for new aid

The stopgap spending bill that will be sent to President Joe Biden’s desk doesn’t contain new money for Ukraine or even transfer authority for aid. Yet backers of Kyiv’s defense against Moscow say it may come soon.

Some backers of Ukraine believe a bill allowing at least that transfer authority — which unlocks other buckets of U.S. cash for the war against Russia — could pass Congress as soon as next week, according to two people with knowledge of conversations between the House and Senate.

The lack of transfer authority is a glaring omission from the spending bill abruptly passed by the House earlier Saturday. Speaker Kevin McCarthy was open to putting it in the House’s bill, according to three people familiar with the negotiations, but negotiators were unable to finalize language to put into the legislation before it passed the lower chamber.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), a co-chair of the House’s Ukraine caucus, said she was “very uncomfortable” voting for a bill that didn’t contain Ukraine aid. (She ultimately backed the bill.)

Supporters of Ukraine’s defense against Russia were reeling on Saturday afternoon after it became clear the must-pass spending bill contained nothing requested by the Biden administration for Ukraine. There was even speculation that transfer authority might have passed the House on Saturday had Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who is threatening McCarthy’s job, not been standing on the floor ready to pounce.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, asked whether there was a commitment to put a Ukraine funding bill, said in a brief interview that he wouldn’t comment on private conversations. House Democrats provided the votes to pass the stopgap bill on Saturday.

“The only way forward is to make sure that we address the needs of the Ukrainian war effort to ensure that democracy, freedom and truth will prevail. And we’re not undermining the national security of the American people,” Jeffries said.

McCarthy’s office did not comment on the House’s next move on Ukraine.

Senate Democrats are also eying a supplemental package for Ukraine aid — an apparent attempt to ease concerns from members who aren’t excited to vote on a continuing resolution that lacks it. Coming out of a pop-up caucus meeting for Senate Democrats on Saturday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) told reporters the “major fight on Ukraine” will happen “when we have the major funding, which is the supplemental.”

“Uninterrupted aid, that is going to be our No. 1 goal, and that is what we concluded in that room,” Klobuchar said.

Major Ukraine supporters like Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) have lamented the lack of aid in the House’s stopgap bill. Prior to the caucus meeting, he told POLITICO that members are trying to plot out the future of Ukraine aid after the House bill’s exclusion.

“We are all trying to learn exactly what the consequences of this are — how much money is in the bank, how much money do you need to move. We are trying to learn the consequences of the House decision in real time,” Murphy said.

Sarah Ferris, Olivia Beavers and Nicholas Wu contributed to this report.

The stopgap spending bill that will be sent to President Joe Biden’s desk doesn’t contain new money for Ukraine or even transfer authority for aid. Yet backers of Kyiv’s defense against Moscow say it may come soon.
Some backers of Ukraine believe a bill allowing at least that transfer authority — which unlocks other buckets of U.S. cash for the war against Russia — could pass Congress as soon as next week, according to two people with knowledge of conversations between the House and Senate.
The lack of transfer authority is a glaring omission from the spending bill abruptly passed by the House earlier Saturday. Speaker Kevin McCarthy was open to putting it in the House’s bill, according to three people familiar with the negotiations, but negotiators were unable to finalize language to put into the legislation before it passed the lower chamber.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), a co-chair of the House’s Ukraine caucus, said she was “very uncomfortable” voting for a bill that didn’t contain Ukraine aid. (She ultimately backed the bill.)
Supporters of Ukraine’s defense against Russia were reeling on Saturday afternoon after it became clear the must-pass spending bill contained nothing requested by the Biden administration for Ukraine. There was even speculation that transfer authority might have passed the House on Saturday had Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who is threatening McCarthy’s job, not been standing on the floor ready to pounce.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, asked whether there was a commitment to put a Ukraine funding bill, said in a brief interview that he wouldn’t comment on private conversations. House Democrats provided the votes to pass the stopgap bill on Saturday.
“The only way forward is to make sure that we address the needs of the Ukrainian war effort to ensure that democracy, freedom and truth will prevail. And we’re not undermining the national security of the American people,” Jeffries said.
McCarthy’s office did not comment on the House’s next move on Ukraine.
Senate Democrats are also eying a supplemental package for Ukraine aid — an apparent attempt to ease concerns from members who aren’t excited to vote on a continuing resolution that lacks it. Coming out of a pop-up caucus meeting for Senate Democrats on Saturday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) told reporters the “major fight on Ukraine” will happen “when we have the major funding, which is the supplemental.”
“Uninterrupted aid, that is going to be our No. 1 goal, and that is what we concluded in that room,” Klobuchar said.
Major Ukraine supporters like Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) have lamented the lack of aid in the House’s stopgap bill. Prior to the caucus meeting, he told POLITICO that members are trying to plot out the future of Ukraine aid after the House bill’s exclusion.
“We are all trying to learn exactly what the consequences of this are — how much money is in the bank, how much money do you need to move. We are trying to learn the consequences of the House decision in real time,” Murphy said.
Sarah Ferris, Olivia Beavers and Nicholas Wu contributed to this report.  

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