December 8, 2023

The US Congress avoids a closure at the expense of Ukraine

DrThe US Congress may have managed to avoid a government shutdown shortly before the deadline. The Senate approved a temporary budget on Saturday evening (local time) preventing the so-called shutdown. Then US President Joe Biden put this into effect with his signature. The 45-day interim budget does not include any aid to Ukraine, which has been attacked by Russia. Therefore, Democrats in Biden’s party reluctantly supported the bill in order to prevent the shutdown. The budget dispute exposed deep divisions among Republicans.

The budget term approved by the US Congress at the end of last year ends at the end of this month. By then, a new federal budget had to be established to avoid bankruptcy. The same political wrangling occurs every year, with Congress usually passing a temporary budget and then wrangling again within a few months about funding for next year’s government. This is the case in this case as well.

Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy unexpectedly introduced a temporary budget on Saturday morning, putting Democrats under pressure. Government work will now continue to be funded at the previous budget level until mid-November.

The interim budget does not contain radical spending cuts

Additional aid to Ukraine has been a priority for the White House. Democrats now face the question of whether to accept a government shutdown in the dispute over support for Kiev. The aid currently approved for Ukraine will soon run out. The Pentagon has reportedly warned that there is not much money left for military aid. Ultimately, a majority of Democrats voted in favor of the bridge budget in order to avoid a shutdown.

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The interim budget also does not contain any drastic spending cuts. This could get Republican McCarthy into even bigger trouble. Because the extremist representatives in his group have demanded exactly that, and have pressured and shamed McCarthy in the past few days. Republicans have only a slim majority in the House, which gives the caucus’s extreme Republicans special power. Some of them have recently more or less publicly threatened to fire McCarthy from office. The Republican only took office at the beginning of the year after 15 rounds of voting because parts of his party refused to support him.