Biden’s budget request is rejected by Republicans
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s request for more than $47 billion in emergency funding to help Ukraine fight COVID-19, monkeypox and natural disasters is meeting with deep skepticism from Republicans of the Senate, signaling an upcoming confrontation.
Early resistance to the size and scope of the spending request signals the tough negotiations ahead as Congress scrambles to pass an interim spending bill that would keep the federal government going past Oct. 1 or would risk a federal shutdown.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that while aid to Ukraine “is obviously a priority,” he downplayed the need for other funding, even in his home state of Kentucky, harshly hit by devastating floods.
“It’s a big ask without much explanation,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., a member of the GOP leadership.
Lawmakers are eager to avoid another government shutdown just weeks before November’s midterm elections, when voters will decide which party controls Congress. But their plan to pass a short-term bill to maintain government funding could run into problems unless the parties reach agreement on what additional priorities, if any, should be included.
The budget showdown is becoming a showcase of party priorities at home and abroad that will define lawmakers in the face of voters in the fall.
The White House request includes $11.7 billion for security and economic aid to Ukraine, in addition to the roughly $40 billion Congress has already approved to help the country fight the Russian invasion. . Closer to home, the Biden administration is seeking $22 billion to respond to COVID-19, and additional funds for monkeypox and natural disasters.
Republicans largely oppose it.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., endorsed Biden’s request and said “it’s shameful that Republicans are playing political games with this.”
“Ukraine needs more help. We want to give it to them,” Schumer said Wednesday. “And on monkeypox and on COVID relief, we have to be prepared.”
This latest round of funding proposals for Ukraine comes as the country depends on support from the United States and its allies to fight the Russian invasion.
The White House says more than three-quarters of funds approved for Ukraine have already been distributed or committed, creating an urgent need for more.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has forged relationships with members of Congress this year, many of whom have traveled to the region and rallied to his aid. Zelenskyy and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke earlier this week.
Republicans said they still support Ukraine and are open to more funding, but want more details on how previous money was spent.