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8 Jan, 2024 06:29

US lawmakers sideline Ukraine to reach budget deal

Congressional leaders have announced a total of $1.59 trillion for 2024, including $886 billion in defense funding
US lawmakers sideline Ukraine to reach budget deal

US Republican and Democrat leaders have reached an agreement on government spending for 2024, sidelining negotiations on additional resources for Israel and Ukraine, as well as money for border control.

In October 2023, the White House released a sweeping set of proposals to support Israel and Ukraine in their respective military conflicts, among other things. The total cost of the supplemental funding request was over $100 billion, of which just over $60 billion was slated for Kiev.

House Republicans have blocked iterations of this supplemental budget numerous times, on the grounds that US border security should take precedence over aid to Ukraine.

The deal announcement comes as US lawmakers are set to return from a break, ahead of a two-tiered federal funding deadline.

The agreement follows defense and domestic spending caps set by Congress as part of a bill to suspend the US debt ceiling until 2025. It “clears the way for Congress to act over the next few weeks in order to maintain important funding priorities for the American people and avoid a government shutdown,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement with top House Democrat Hakeem Jeffries on Sunday.

The first set of allocated federal finances are set to expire January 19, the second on February 2, without which the US government would be forced to shut down.

Overall, the deal provides for $886 billion in defense funding, and $772 billion in domestic, non-defense spending.

In a letter to Republican colleagues, House Speaker Mike Johnson said the deal would secure $16 billion in additional spending cuts compared to the previous agreement negotiated by then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden, and is around $30 billion less than what the Senate was weighing.

“This represents the most favorable budget agreement Republicans have achieved in over a decade,” Johnson claimed.

Biden thanked the lawmakers for cooperating in reaching a consensus in a statement published on Sunday, but added that he expects them to work harder to unlock billions in military aid to Israel and Ukraine.

“Now, congressional Republicans must do their job, stop threatening to shut down the government, and fulfill their basic responsibility to fund critical domestic and national security priorities, including my supplemental request,” he said.