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US Debt Ceiling Discussions Reignites Debate Over Ukraine Funding

The allocated funds are expected to last until at least 30 September, the end of the current fiscal year

Photo Credit : Reuters


Congressional debate over funding for Ukraine was reignited during the battle to raise the US debt ceiling. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced on Tuesday that he had no immediate plans to introduce legislation to increase defence spending beyond what was agreed upon in the recent deal. 

McCarthy's statement suggested that securing additional funds for Ukraine may face obstacles in Congress when President Joe Biden makes his next funding request. The House and Senate previously approved USD 48 billion in aid for the Kyiv government in December, before Republicans gained control of the House. 

The allocated funds are expected to last until at least 30 September, the end of the current fiscal year. Lawmakers anticipate that Biden will request more funds by August or September. 

The debt ceiling agreement, signed into law by Biden on Saturday sets a limit of USD 886 billion for national security spending until 30 September 2024. Although this matches Biden's request, it falls short of what defence hawks in Congress desired. 

As some Republicans threatened to vote against the deal due to the reduced defence spending, the Senate's Democratic and Republican leaders assured that the caps would not hinder the passage of supplementary spending legislation to allocate more money for Ukraine and the Department of Defence. 

However, McCarthy, who negotiated the agreement with Biden, expressed his reluctance to automatically allow a vote on the Republican-led House for supplementary spending legislation. 

"It doesn't matter if it's Ukraine or anything else. The idea that someone wants to go do a supplemental after we just came to an agreement is trying to blow the agreement," McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol. 

Nonetheless, some Republican senators believe that a supplemental spending bill will be necessary. 

"I strongly believe we are going to need a supplemental for defence," said Senator Susan Collins, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

While McCarthy affirmed his support for Ukraine and aided in its defence against the Russian invasion, he stated that he would require further information before proceeding. 

"I'm not giving money for the sake of giving money. I want to see what is the purpose, what is the outcome you want to achieve and then show me the plan to see if I think that plan actually can work?" he explained. 

House Republicans aim for funding for Ukraine, as well as other priorities, to follow the regular order of Congress. This involves debating and passing the 12 appropriations bills that lawmakers will focus on during the summer to fund government programs for the upcoming fiscal year starting on 1 October. 

To date, the House and Senate have approved over USD 113 billion in military assistance and other aid for Ukraine since Russia's invasion in February 2022. All four tranches of assistance received strong bipartisan support, although they were passed while Democrats controlled both the Senate and the House.