Senate passes interim bill to avoid shutdown and help Ukraine


By KEVIN FREKING – Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate on Thursday passed a short-term spending bill that would avoid a partial government shutdown when the current fiscal year ends at midnight Friday and provide another injection of military and economic aid to Ukraine as it seeks to repel the brutal invasion of Russia.

The bill funds the federal government until Dec. 16 and gives lawmakers more time to agree on legislation setting spending levels for fiscal year 2023. It passed by a vote of 72 to 25 and is now before the House for consideration. All the no’s came from the Republicans.

As has become routine, lawmakers waited until the final hours before the closing deadline to act. But there was little doubt about the passage of a bill to finance the government, especially after Democratic Senator Joe Manchin agreed to drop provisions aimed at streamlining the permitting process for energy projects and gave the green light to the approval of a pipeline in his home state of West Virginia. These provisions had drawn opposition from both sides of the political aisle.

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However, the bill only postpones for a few months the maneuvers that will be necessary after the midterm election to pass a massive government funding package as negotiators will need to iron out differences over spending on burning issues such as abortion, border security and climate change.

The bill approved Thursday, with some exceptions, keeps federal agency spending at current levels through mid-December. The most notable of these exceptions is the more than $12 billion that will be provided to help Ukraine, in addition to the more than $50 billion provided for in two previous bills. The money will be used to provide training, equipment and logistical support to the Ukrainian military, to help the Ukrainian government provide basic services to its citizens and to replenish US weapons systems and ammunition.

“Seven months into the conflict, it is clear that American aid has greatly helped the people of Ukraine to resist the vicious and vicious aggression of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” the Senate Majority Leader said. , Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y. “But the fight is far from over.”

Republican Leader Mitch McConnell also voiced support for Ukraine aid, while urging the Biden administration to get it out faster.

“Helping Ukraine is not a token feel-good gesture,” McConnell said. “It’s literally an investment in our own national security and that of our allies.”

Disaster relief was attached to the stopgap bill, including $2.5 billion to help New Mexico communities recover from the Hermit’s Peak / Calf’s Canyon Fire, the largest wildfire in state history; $2 billion for a block grant program that helps with the economic recovery of communities affected by recent disasters and $20 million for previously authorized water and wastewater infrastructure improvements for Jackson, Mississippi.

An additional $18.8 billion has been included for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to respond to current and future disasters, such as Hurricane Ian hit Florida on Wednesday.

The bill would provide an additional $1 billion for a program that helps low-income households heat their homes. And he would transfer $3 billion from a Pentagon aid package to the State Department for continued Afghan resettlement operations.

Lawmakers also included a reauthorization of the Food and Drug Administration’s user fee agreements for five years, which ensures the agency can continue critical product safety reviews and will not need to issue pink slips for thousands of employees working on drug and medical device applications.

One thing missing from the bill is the billions of dollars in additional funding that President Joe Biden has sought to help meet. COVID-19[feminine] and monkeypox. Republicans have criticized health spending as wasteful. The White House said the money would have been used to accelerate research and development of vaccines and therapies, prepare for future variants of COVID and support the global response.

Passing the bill is the last must-do item on lawmakers’ list before returning to their home states and districts to campaign ahead of midterm elections that will determine which party will control the House and Senate. over the next two years. Lawmakers were eager to leave Washington and focus on campaigning without the specter of a shutdown.

“The last thing the American people need right now is an unnecessary government shutdown,” Schumer said.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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