President Joe Biden urged House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to follow up quickly with funding for Ukraine hours after Congress passed a spending bill without it to avoid a U.S. government shutdown.
The omission comes at a critical stage for Kyiv as it steps up efforts to repel Russia’s invasion and shows how domestic political debate in Washington is starting to affect support for Ukraine. Less than two weeks ago, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Washington to plead for new weapons systems and urged allies to keep up their financial and military support for Kyiv.
“I fully expect the speaker to keep his commitment to secure passage and support needed to help Ukraine as they defend themselves against aggression and brutality,” Biden said Sunday at the White House. “There’s an overwhelming number of Republicans and Democrats in both the House and the Senate who support Ukraine. Let’s vote on it.”
On Saturday, Congress passed a bipartisan measure that would keep the U.S. government funded until Nov. 17 with $16 billion in disaster funding. However, the lack of $6 billion in Ukraine aid is a blow to Biden.
Asked what he would say to Zelenskyy and other allies of Ukraine, Biden said, “I can reassure them. Look at me: We are going to get it done.”
But fresh assistance isn’t certain and becoming more difficult to achieve particularly as issues like U.S. border security come to the forefront.
Kyiv has ramped up missile and drone attacks on Russian-occupied Crimea, targeting bases and supply lines as its four-month old counteroffensive makes halting progress on the ground ahead of winter.
Backing for Ukraine from the E.U. is also facing a fresh challenge after a candidate sympathetic to Russia won Slovakia’s election on Saturday. Robert Fico has criticized E.U. sanctions against Russia and pledged to end military aid to Ukraine.
The concern for Kyiv is that opponents of aid in the U.S. and Europe may feed off each other’s momentum after their successes over the weekend.
Zelenskyy’s office did not immediately respond when contacted for comment late Sunday. But Ukrainian officials broadly downplayed the situation in remarks on social media, saying they were working with U.S. counterparts to secure fresh financial aid.
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