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Congress passes spending bill without aiding Ukraine, Israel

The government has seemingly avoided yet another shutdown, but providing aid for Ukraine and Israel remains elusive.
Congress passes spending bill without aiding Ukraine, Israel
Posted at 9:39 AM, Nov 16, 2023

Congress has once again likely averted a government shutdown after a late Wednesday vote in the Senate. The plan, which passed out of the House earlier this week, funds some government agencies until mid-January, while others are funded until Feb. 2. 

The White House has said President Joe Biden will sign this. The legislation, however, does not include any aid to Israel or Ukraine.

With the Thanksgiving holiday looming, a natural question is how long can these countries fight their conflicts without additional U.S. aid? The answer depends on who you ask, with Ukraine and Israel in very different positions.

"There is an urgency, a real urgency with Ukraine right now," said Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat who heads the Foreign Relations Committee. 

Democratic senators on the Senate Relations Committee, as well as Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, seemed to indicate earlier this month that Ukraine may soon be in a dire position with a harsh winter on the horizon.

Of course, not everyone on Capitol Hill agrees with the urgency.

SEE MORE: Senate votes 87-11 to pass short-term government funding bill

To date, Congress has approved more than $75 billion for Ukraine. Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson hasn't ruled aid out to Ukraine entirely, but he wants it paired with something else.

"We want to pair border security with Ukraine because I think we can get bipartisan agreement," he said. "If we are going to take care of a border in Ukraine, we need to take of our southern border."

Of course, the U.S. isn't the only country helping Ukraine. Members of the European Union this week debated a $20 billion aid package. But that aid package is in doubt, too, because of a lack of support by some European leaders.

As far as Israel, it's hard for Members of Congress to walk through the halls without being reminded of the conflict. Pictures of some of the reported hostages line some of the hallways.

This week, the Senate blocked a House GOP plan to send $14 billion to Israel. Democrats didn't like the fact it was paid for with cuts to the IRS.

Politically, Israel, for the moment, appears to be in a different position than Ukraine when it comes to not getting fresh U.S. support. For one, Israel's conflict with Hamas is more recent. Ukraine's war has gone on for close to two years. Not to mention, by law every year, the U.S. gives over $3 billion to assist Israel's defense.

That being said, the White House still believes Israel needs U.S. aid urgently.

Officials, though, have made clear in recent days that any Israeli aid package should be combined with assistance for Ukraine. President Biden doesn't want them separated and would veto any only-Israel bill.

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