Conservative Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced Wednesday he will hold up any funding bill to keep the government open past Sept. 30 if it includes funding for the war in Ukraine.
“Today I’m putting congressional leadership & @POTUS on notice that I will oppose any effort to hold the federal government hostage for Ukraine funding. I will not consent to expedited passage of any spending measure that provides any more U.S. aid to Ukraine,” Paul wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
That means if Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wants to add Ukraine money to a stopgap measure to fund federal departments and agencies, he would have to go through the time-consuming process of filing cloture and scheduling a vote to end debate on the bill, which would take a few days.
The country risks a shutdown if Congress doesn’t pass what’s known as a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open past Sept. 30.
The problem Schumer faces is that Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) hasn’t been able to muster up enough votes in the House to pass a CR and send it to the Senate.
The impasse in the House, is holding up action in the Senate, giving Paul leverage to threaten Ukraine funding.
President Biden has requested $24 billion in security and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
Senators are scheduled to receive a classified briefing on Ukraine at 5 p.m. Wednesday ahead of a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday in the Old Senate Chamber.
Schumer on Tuesday declined to say whether he would add Ukraine funding and disaster assistance to the continuing resolution but observed the package would need support from Democrats and Republicans.
“We’d like to work on a bipartisan basis on the CR with the Republicans. We’ve gotten indications that they want to do that. We’ve done it very successfully on the appropriations process and hopefully we can come together bipartisan here as well,” he said.
Schumer criticized House Republicans on Tuesday for reaching a deal on a continuing resolution that didn’t include Ukraine or disaster relief money.
The Democratic leader could attempt to pass the continuing resolution through the Senate first by using a legislative vehicle passed earlier this year in the House but he hasn’t made a decision on that yet.
“Our first job is to get the House to pass something. We’ll see if they can but we need a bipartisan bill in each body,” he said.
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