Latest News

Biden’s Ukraine Aid Risks Slowdown as GOP Balks at Covid Tie-In

© Reuters.

(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden has broad support in Congress for a massive $33 billion Ukraine aid package, but the proposal risks getting tangled in a long-simmering partisan dispute over immigration and Covid-19 funding. 

The Senate could vote on the emergency spending package next week, but the House will be on recess. Congress could finish by the week of May 9 and send it to Biden for his signature. But if Democrats insist on attaching long-stalled funding for Covid vaccinations and treatment to the package, action could be delayed indefinitely.  

“That’s not going to happen. That’s an awful way to do business,” Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, said about combining the two spending requests.

Senate Democrats and Republicans previously hashed out a $10 billion compromise on Covid funding, but the effort stalled earlier this month when Republicans demanded a vote on an amendment that would reverse a decision to lift pandemic-related restrictions on migration across the southern border, known as Title 42. 

Vulnerable swing-state Senate Democrats have come out against lifting Title 42 and could feel compelled to approve a Title 42 amendment. Once the provision is part of the bill, that could poison the measure with Democrats in the closely divided House. 

Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney, who negotiated the Covid relief package with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, said senators still want to vote on extending Title 42. 

“I think the prospects of each being passed would be greater if they were kept separate and if each had the potential for amendments,” he told reporters. 

Biden urged Congress to tie the two together in his request. “Let’s get both of these critical tasks done,” he said Thursday at the White House.

That has the support of many Democrats. Senate Health Committee Chair Patty Murray told reporters that Covid aid should be included with the Ukraine package.

“It needs to get done. We need to have testing and new vaccines developed,” the Washington Democrat said. 

The administration’s proposal includes $20.4 billion in military and security assistance for Ukraine, $8.5 billion in economic assistance to help support the government in Kyiv, and $3 billion for humanitarian assistance and global food security, according to a White House statement.

White House officials said the funding would cover Ukraine costs through Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

The Ukraine aid generally drew support from key Republicans, who stressed the urgency of the situation on the ground. 

“There is a desperate need for this assistance. We can’t play politics with this. We have to get this done,” Senator Rob Portman of Ohio said.

“The sooner the better on Ukraine,” Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said.

The top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, said he is “pretty satisfied” with the request for the military although he had expected higher levels prior to the announcement.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

Biden’s Ukraine Aid Risks Slowdown as GOP Balks at Covid Tie-In

What's your reaction?

In Love
Not Sure

You may also like

More in:Latest News

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.