President Joe Biden intends to submit a supplemental funding request of at least $25 billion to Congress, according to a person familiar with the plans, setting up a possible showdown with Republicans less willing to provide further financial support for the war in Ukraine.
(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden intends to submit a supplemental funding request of at least $25 billion to Congress, according to a person familiar with the plans, setting up a possible showdown with Republicans less willing to provide further financial support for the war in Ukraine.
The supplemental request will include approximately $12 billion for disaster relief and $13 billion for defense funds, including assistance for Ukraine, according to the person familiar. The emergency funds would not be subject to budget caps.
The White House Office of Management and Budget declined to comment on Wednesday evening.
The request, reported earlier by Punchbowl News, comes at a critical time for Ukraine, as the war with Russia has intensified. Backed by military assistance from the US and Europe, Ukrainian forces have begun a long-anticipated counteroffensive intended to drive Russian troops out of their territory. Yet that push has made slow progress, and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has asked Biden and other world leaders for more aid to sustain the war effort.
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Despite those conditions, Republican leaders in the House — under pressure from conservatives that have railed against US involvement in the war — have balked at approving more Ukraine aid.
Congress in December passed $45 billion in additional funding for the Ukraine war effort that was meant to last through this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. That came on top of $40 billion in May of 2022 and $13.6 billion in March 2022 for a total of $98.6 billion so far.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said in June that he would not allow a vote on additional Ukraine funding if the measure made an end-run around the $886 billion defense-spending cap set by the May debt-ceiling deal with Biden. McCarthy has said he supports Ukraine’s war effort, but wants tough scrutiny of any funding request.
“What about the money we have already spent?” he told reporters at the time.
Senate Republican defense hawks disagree with McCarthy. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and others have said they do not want to see the Pentagon’s base budget cut to pay for Ukraine aid.
The White House’s request will complicate Congress’ ability to avoid a government shutdown when funding expires after Sept. 30. Given the time crunch Congress faces when lawmakers return from recess next month, the request would likely be attached to a short-term spending bill needed to keep the government open.
Passing a stopgap spending bill in the House will already be politically perilous for McCarthy given opposition from members of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus to continuing agency funding at current levels.
The group is also skeptical of additional money for Ukraine, so linking the two could solidify opposition. A handful those members could offer a motion to oust McCarthy from his speakership if he pushes a bill they deem unacceptable.
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