What’s the latest?
The US Congress passed an 11th-hour funding bill Saturday to keep federal agencies running for another 45 days and avert a costly government – although the deal left out aid to war-torn Ukraine requested by President Joe Biden, AFP reports.
The last-ditch “continuing resolution” was pitched by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as millions of public workers looked set to be sent home unpaid, upending government functions from military operations to food aid to federal policymaking.
“Tonight, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate voted to keep the government open, preventing an unnecessary crisis that would have inflicted needless pain on millions of hardworking Americans,” Biden said in a statement.
What about aid for Ukraine?
Aid for Ukraine was stripped out of the funding bill in order for it to get enough votes to avoid a shutdown.
Biden put the blame firmly on berated McCarthy and the House Republicans for reneging on spending levels agreed with the White House months ago and for stripping out support for Ukraine.
Is this the end of US aid to Ukraine?
No, lawmakers must now wrangle on a separate bill on $24 billion in military assistance to Ukraine that Biden wanted in the budget, with a vote possible early next week, US media reported.
“We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted,” Biden said in a statement.
“I fully expect the Speaker will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment,” he added, referring to McCarthy.
Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, said in a statement: “While I would have preferred to pass a bill now with additional assistance for Ukraine, which has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, it is easier to help Ukraine with the government open than if it were closed.”
What has Ukraine said?
Kyiv has not commented directly on the development but a social media post from President Zelensky on Sunday morning was clearly aimed at the ongoing crisis.
Tough times have made us strong. And the strong bring the times of victory closer. Step by step. Today, tomorrow, every day, every minute.— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) October 1, 2023
No one should or will be able to "turn off" our resilience, endurance, grit, and fortitude. Neither on a regular nor an emergency basis.… pic.twitter.com/UfeSgtYA5Y
He wrote: “Tough times have made us strong. And the strong bring the times of victory closer. Step by step. Today, tomorrow, every day, every minute. No one should or will be able to ‘turn off’ our resilience, endurance, grit, and fortitude. Neither on a regular nor an emergency basis.
“None of them have an ‘expiration date’ an ‘end date,’ or a final point after which we would stop resisting and fighting. There is only one such point: our victory. As we bring it closer every day, we say, ‘We will fight for as long as it takes.’
“We were doing it in the first minutes of February 24th; we have been doing it for all these 585 days, and we will keep doing it.”
What happens next?
Arming and funding Kyiv in its war against the Russian invasion has been a key policy plank for the Biden administration and, while the stopgap is temporary, it does raise questions over the political viability of renewing the multibillion-dollar flow of assistance.
McCarthy has insisted there could be “no blank check” for Ukraine.
“I have a real concern of what's going to happen long term, but I don't want to waste any money,” he said.
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