White House says funding for Ukraine is running out, with no deal in sight in Congress

By: - December 13, 2023 4:48 pm

Left, to right, U.S. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., listen during remarks at a Capitol Menorah lighting ceremony at the U.S. Capitol Building on Dec. 12, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration said Wednesday there’s roughly $1 billion left in military aid for Ukraine and predicted that funding will last less than a month if Congress doesn’t approve another supplemental spending bill.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during the daily briefing that “the money is running out” and called on House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, to keep that chamber in session until it can approve funding legislation.

“Speaker Johnson has said the House will leave tomorrow without fixing the border, without funding Israel, without funding urgent needs in Ukraine,” Jean-Pierre said. “That would embolden would-be aggressors around the world.”

Both chambers of Congress are scheduled to leave Washington, D.C., on Thursday for a three-week holiday break. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, has also called on Johnson to keep the House in session, but hasn’t yet said if the Senate will be staying in town.

The Senate remains gridlocked on a $110.5 billion spending package that would bolster military and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

Republicans insist the bill, which includes billions to bolster security at the U.S.-Mexico border, must include changes to immigration policy.

Those talks have slowly moved forward this week, but it wasn’t clear Wednesday afternoon if Republicans and Democrats could broker an agreement before leaving for their break.

Schumer said Wednesday morning negotiators made “real progress” on Tuesday but added there was still much left to do before leaders could announce any sort of deal.

“For months, Republicans insisted that action on the border is a crisis that can’t wait, but with the holidays around the corner, they’re suddenly saying, ‘Never mind, this can wait till next year,’” Schumer said. “If Republicans say the border is an emergency, then they should be prepared to stay.”

Ukrainian soldiers, Schumer said, wouldn’t get a Christmas break from defending their country against Russia’s invasion.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said Wednesday that GOP negotiators were working “in good faith on border policy changes that will allow the Senate to pass a national security supplemental.”

“I’m hopeful that Democrats, both here and at the White House, are beginning to recognize how committed we are to addressing the crisis at our Southern border,” McConnell said. “I’m hopeful that we can reach an agreement and address two national security priorities.”

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Jennifer Shutt
Jennifer Shutt

Jennifer covers the nation’s capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom. Her coverage areas include congressional policy, politics and legal challenges with a focus on health care, unemployment, housing and aid to families.

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