White House threatened to veto funding bill if Ukraine aid requirement was included

The White House warned that President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions The Memo: Left pins hopes on Nina Turner in Ohio after recent defeats Biden administration to keep Trump-era rule of turning away migrants during pandemic MORE could have vetoed a spending package to prevent a government shutdown if it included language from Democrats requiring future military aid for Ukraine to be released quickly.

A person familiar with the talks confirmed to The Hill that the White House threatened to veto the spending package unless language was dropped that would have required Ukraine aid to be released within 45 days.

White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland, who led negotiations with members of Congress in recent weeks, said that the language could have triggered a veto.

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“There were several red lines that could have triggered a Presidential veto, including provisions which were unconstitutional restrictions on the President’s authorities over Federal spending," Ueland said in a statement to The Hill. "We made clear that the President opposed them. Together, negotiators found acceptable language that respected the Constitution, was supported by the President, and ultimately passed in Congress.” 

A veto would have set up for a likely government shutdown just before the holidays.

The development was first reported by The Washington Post.

The proposal came in response to Trump temporarily withholding nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine earlier this year, a move scrutinized by lawmakers as part of the House impeachment proceedings against the president the past several months.

Trump is accused of refusing to release the funds over a push for an investigation into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions GOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal Biden vaccine rule sets stage for onslaught of lawsuits MORE, though he has insisted the aid was withheld for unrelated reasons.

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The language was ultimately left out of the massive $1.4 trillion spending package approved this week and which Trump is expected to sign Friday. The language, had it been included in the spending package, would have required the White House to release $250 million in Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funds within 45 days. The funds made it into the final spending package without the requirement. 

The Post reported that another sticking point was language that would have required apportionment letters, which authorize the release of congressional funding, to be made public. Congressional Democrats have pressured the Trump administration previously over funding to Puerto Rico, Lebanon and other governments.

Reached for comment, Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions Overnight Health Care: Average daily COVID infections topped last summer's peak, CDC says | US reaches 70 percent vaccination goal a month after Biden's target | White House says CDC can't renew eviction ban Biden, Pelosi struggle with end of eviction ban MORE (D-Calif.), told The Hill the negotiations were made "primarily by the Appropriations Committee and OMB [Office of Management and Budget]."

"These matters were two among dozens that had to be resolved in order to reach agreement on the two minibuses between both Houses of Congress and the White House," he said. "The plot continues. Clearly, all roads to lead to Putin."

The Office of Management and Budget did not respond to a request for comment.

– Jordain Carney contributed reporting