US President Joe Biden has reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to economic and military assistance to Ukraine as Washington itself is struggling to keep funding the government.
In a statement released on Saturday, Biden said US support for Ukraine could not be allowed to lapse, and that he expected Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy to “keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment.”
“While the Speaker and the overwhelming majority of Congress have been steadfast in their support for Ukraine, there is no new funding in this agreement to continue that support. We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted,” Biden added.
The US president also said the deal to avert a shutdown was "good news for the American people" but added that "we should never have been in this position in the first place."
The statement came after a bill ensuring funding until November 17 received overwhelming support and was signed into law by President Joe Biden minutes before a deadline.
Congress approved the bill a few hours after the House of Representatives passed the measure 335-91 after Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy broke ranks with members of his party who insisted that any bill had to pass the chamber with only Republican votes.
The bill received support from 209 Democrats, far outnumbering the 126 Republicans who voted in favor, leading Democrats to consider it a victory.
But the loss of Ukraine aid was a blow to lawmakers from both parties vowing to support President Volodymyr Zelensky following his recent Washington visit. The Senate bill included $6 billion for Ukraine, and both chambers came to a standstill on Saturday as lawmakers assessed their options.
Moreover, supporters of Ukraine in the House, Senate and White House said they would not give up despite the defeat, emphasizing that most members of Congress still back the additional funding. They also noted that the stopgap spending bill approved would only fund the government until mid-November, providing another opportunity to push again for money for Ukraine.
The US has approved four rounds of aid to Ukraine in response to Russia’s war, totaling about $113 billion, with some of that money going toward replenishment of US military equipment that was sent to the frontlines.
In August, Biden called on Congress to provide for an additional $24 billion. Russia has repeatedly warned against Western funneling funds into the Ukrainian conflict, which would prolong the plight of war on both sides.