In a last-minute effort to avert a government shutdown, the House and Senate passed a “clean” stopgap spending bill. The bill extends current spending levels until November 17 and provides $16 billion in disaster relief, but it does not include funding for Ukraine or GOP provisions addressing border security. The absence of Ukraine aid has drawn criticism from both parties, while conservatives are unhappy about the lack of funding for border security. Speaker Kevin McCarthy, despite facing opposition within his own conference, successfully avoided a shutdown and secured one of his key conditions for the stopgap — no aid to Ukraine.
Hardline conservatives achieved a victory with the exclusion of Ukraine aid from the stopgap bill. While more lawmakers in Congress support aid for Ukraine, the Senate and House Democrats, along with Senate Republicans including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, agreed to a stopgap without funding for Ukraine just hours before the deadline. McConnell’s role in the funding fight was mixed, as he has been a vocal supporter of Ukraine aid but ultimately followed suit with the majority in avoiding a shutdown. This funding battle has also dealt a blow to Congressional Democrats, who wanted to avert a shutdown but now face criticism for clearing a stopgap bill without funding for Ukraine. However, their support of the bill saved Speaker McCarthy from an embarrassing defeat.
The decision to exclude funding for Ukraine is a significant loss for President Biden, who has been a strong supporter of Kyiv throughout his term. The stopgap bill prevented a shutdown, which Biden likely wanted to avoid amid falling poll numbers. However, he was unable to secure the funds for Ukraine and will now have to reassess his approach. Meanwhile, Representative Matt Gaetz, who threatened to oust McCarthy over a clean stopgap bill, was left without any gains. Fiscal conservatives in the House also suffered a defeat, as the bill continues funding at current levels rather than providing deep spending cuts and policy concessions. The absence of Ukraine funding raises questions about the future of support for the country and requires further discussions with the Biden administration.