Biden presses Republicans to support Ukraine after contentious budget omits aid


U.S. President Joe Biden on Sunday pressed congressional Republicans to back a bill to provide more aid to Ukraine, saying he was “sick and tired” of the political brinkmanship that nearly led to a government shutdown.

Biden spoke after Congress passed a stopgap bill on Saturday that extended government funding for more than a month and avoided a shutdown that would have left most of the federal government’s more than four million employees without a paycheck and cut a wide range of services.

The bill, which passed with broad Democratic and Republican support, sparked hardline Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz to pledge to oust the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy.

The bill, which lasts through Nov. 17, did not include aid for Kyiv. The United States has been a major supporter of Ukraine after Russia invaded it last year, and Biden has sought to rally the world, as well as his own country, to maintain that support.

Biden said Republicans had pledged to provide that aid through a separate vote.

WATCH | Zelenskyy leaves Canada with $650M pledge for aid: 

Zelenskyy leaves Canada with $650M pledge for aid

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy left Canada, returning home to news of another deadly Russian attack. The federal government has pledged $650 million in further aid to Ukraine, and U.S. media are reporting the Biden administration will send long-range missiles.

“We cannot under any circumstances allow America’s support for Ukraine to be interrupted. I fully expect the Speaker to keep his commitment to secure the passage and support needed to help Ukraine as they defend themselves against aggression and brutality,” he told reporters at the White House.

Asked if he could trust McCarthy to honour deals, Biden said: “We just made one about Ukraine, so we’ll find out.”

A White House official said Biden was referring to Republican promises of passing a separate bill on the issue.

Biden assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a visit to Washington last month that strong U.S. support for his war to repel Russian invaders would be maintained despite opposition from some Republican lawmakers.

Soldiers cover their ears and turn away as they fire a mortar.
Ukrainian soldiers fire a mortar towards Russian positions near Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine, on Aug. 12. (Libkos/The Associated Press)

Biden urged Republicans to move ahead quickly to avoid another crisis in November.

“The brinkmanship has to end. And there shouldn’t be another … crisis,” he said. “I strongly urge my Republican friends in Congress not to wait. Don’t waste time as you did all summer. Pass a year-long budget agreement. Honour the deal we made a few months ago.”

Biden declined to weigh in on whether Democrats should support McCarthy if he needed their votes to keep his job as House Speaker. The president said he would leave that to Democratic leaders in Congress to decide.

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