Senate leaders reach short-term budget deal with $6B in Ukraine aid, setting up showdown with House

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In a bid to avert a government shutdown by Saturday, lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled Senate released a ‘clean’ Continuing Resolution (CR) on Tuesday that would keep the government funded through Nov. 17. 

The CR cleared a key procedural hurdle in upper chamber in a vote of 77 – 19 Tuesday afternoon, ending the debate on the measure and allowing it to proceed to a final vote.

‘All through the weekend – night and day – Senate Democrats and Republicans worked in good faith to reach an agreement on a continuing resolution that will keep the government funded and avert a shutdown,’ Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement Tuesday.

The short-term CR includes only $6.2 billion allocated to Ukraine — an $18 billion decrease from President Joe Biden’s August request to Congress. Another $6 billion is allocated to natural disaster funding. The CR does not include any additional funding for border security like the House’s version.

The House and Senate must come to some kind of agreement on how to fund the government by the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, or risk a partial government shutdown.

However, without unanimous consent from the upper chamber, it’s unclear how far the Senate’s CR will travel either. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., already said he would object to any funding patch with Ukraine aid, potentially placing the passage of the CR after the deadline.

‘I will oppose any effort to hold the federal government hostage for Ukraine funding, I will not consent to expedited passage of any spending measure that provides any more US aid to Ukraine,’ Rand posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The Senate’s proposed CR, however, is worlds apart from its GOP-led House counterpart, where House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., indicated aid to Ukraine should be a standalone bill and may not give the Senate-authored CR a House vote.

McCarthy said the chamber would vote on a short-term spending bill soon after holding a key vote to proceed with four year-long appropriations bills on Tuesday night.

‘The Republicans will put on the floor a move to secure our border. I think that’s the appropriate way to be able to keep government funded, secure border while we continue to keep government open to work on the rest of the appropriations process,’ McCarthy told reporters in the morning.

Schumer said Tuesday on the Senate floor, ‘We are now right at the precipice.’

‘This bipartisan CR is a temporary solution, a bridge towards cooperation and away from extremism,’ Schumer said. ‘And it will allow us to keep working to fully fund the federal government and spare American families the pain of a shutdown.’

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said, ‘We are eager to provide relief to communities recovering from natural disasters from Hawaii, to Florida, and bipartisan majorities recognize the ongoing need to counter Russia and China and continue to provide lethal aid to Ukraine.’

‘Over the years, I’ve been pretty clear in my view that government shutdowns are bad news whichever way you look at them. They don’t work as political bargaining chips,’ he said.

The House is scheduled to deliberate on four distinct appropriations bills on Tuesday evening. However, it remained uncertain if McCarthy had garnered enough votes to advance them. He can only afford to lose a handful of Republican votes. 

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