Just 10 days before another government shutdown, Congress expanded its to-do list with Ukraine and the border
WASHINGTON (AP) — Ten days before it could happen Government shutdownCongress is no closer to resolving the crisis, but rather it complicates the issue with Republican demands Border security changes As a condition for further support for Ukraine in its war against Russia.
The new Speaker of the House of Representatives mike johnson, The Los Angeles Republican said Tuesday that Republicans don’t want to shut things down, but he’s well aware that his predecessor, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., He was removed from the position of speaker After settling with Democrats in September Keep federal offices open.
“We certainly want to avoid a government shutdown,” Johnson said at a news conference with families of kidnapped loved ones in the capital. Israel-Hamas war.
“It’s a dangerous time all over the world right now,” he said. “We realize that, and we are doing our job.”
Johnson faces one of his toughest tests yet, just two weeks after taking office. Instead of leading House Republicans to a strategy, Johnson appears to be looking for a way out of the government funding dilemma with his GOP colleagues.
In a closed meeting, House Republicans discussed stopgap measures, including a new idea that is gaining momentum: a “pacifist” approach that would fund parts of the government until early December and the rest until mid-January, according to Republicans who granted anonymity to discuss the matter. Private gathering.
The Senate, controlled by Democrats, is working on a more comprehensive spending plan to fund the government at current levels while also considering President Joe Biden’s plan. Nearly $106 billion demand For additional funds for Ukraine, Israel, the Asia-Pacific region and border security.
“None of this is going to be easy to do, none of this,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
“The outcome of the next two weeks will be about the same thing I’ve emphasized all year — bipartisanship,” he said.
Congress got into this budget shutdown loop because the House and Senate failed, as they often do, to pass dozens of individual bills needed to fund various agencies in the federal government. When the new budget year began on Oct. 1, lawmakers agreed to approve funding at current levels through Nov. 17, to allow time to finish the work.
To complicate matters this time, Republicans are rejecting Biden’s request to support Ukraine in fighting Russia unless the president agrees to their demands for enhanced security along the US border with Mexico.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he spoke Monday with Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and “made clear to them: We must have a credible solution” to the border.
McConnell said he was in line with Biden’s “comprehensive approach” to funding Ukraine, Israel and other regions, but that Republicans were “very serious” about including border changes. Given that the Senate is so narrowly divided between Democrats and Republicans, “boundaries have to be part of it, if they want to clear the Senate,” he said.
Biden is seeking nearly $14 billion in border funds for detention facilities, asylum staff and other needs, including efforts to stem the flow of deadly fentanyl. Republicans say that’s not enough, and are demanding policy changes that would make it harder for migrants to seek asylum at the border. They also want to revive border wall construction.
The White House is discussing some changes to border policy, but rejected the Senate Republican proposal and said it lacked policy provisions that might be important to Democrats, such as a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the United States who came as children. “What we saw from Senate Republicans is not serious legislation,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
Democrats denounced the Republican proposal as a return to the border policies of the Donald Trump era. They said Ukrainian funds should not be delayed while Congress tries to resolve border issues that have been a difficult political issue for years.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Congress cannot leave Ukraine behind as it confronts Russian President Vladimir Putin. It blocked a Republican attempt on Tuesday to pass Aid bill for Israel in the House of Representatives Alone without any other assistance.
“Ukraine is going through a critical phase in a brutal war. We must not give Putin victory and throw Ukraine to the wolves.”
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut said the Ukrainian military may soon have “blank guns.” He said that the decisions being made now in Congress could determine whether the capital, Kiev, will remain a city in Ukraine or fall into Russia’s hands next year.
While Biden has requested $61 billion for Ukraine as part of his package, Republican support is waning. Some Republicans are eyeing a smaller sum focused on military equipment rather than humanitarian and government aid in Kiev.
Unable to wrap up its annual government funding business in the next two weeks, Congress will almost certainly have no choice but a temporary solution to avoid a government shutdown.
While the House and Senate have approved packages of bills to fund the government, they are taking a different approach. House Republicans are departing significantly from the agreement Biden and McCarthy struck earlier this year to set spending levels.
House Republicans are cutting funds for most departments except the Pentagon, while the Senate is also boosting defense and diverting some resources. Without any concessions, the final products were not sent to Biden to become law.
Johnson presented several plans to Republican lawmakers in a closed meeting, according to lawmakers in the room.
Hardline conservatives in the House, including many in the Freedom Caucus, have mostly favored the two-step “tiered” approach because it sets a tight deadline for Congress to finish the work and negotiate with the Senate.
But senior Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee warned that it would likely take much longer to reach agreement with the Senate on spending levels, especially when the agreement on key spending reached by Biden and McCarthy is no longer met.
Lawmakers do not expect any votes until early next week. This puts Congress on a tight deadline to avoid a shutdown.
But House Republicans signaled there was more consensus on passing the stopgap funding measure than there was in September, when former McCarthy had to turn to Democrats for support to keep the government open, then faced a vote to oust him.
House Republicans spent most of last month struggling to elect a new president before settling on Johnson.
“After last month, if we go into lockdown now, we deserve what we get,” North Dakota Republican Rep. Kelly Armstrong said. “So we have to figure this out.”
Associated Press writers Kevin Freking, Seung-Min Kim and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on apnews.com