Pelosi says deal on Ukraine aid is imminent

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks to Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) after an enrollment ceremony for the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act on Wednesday, March 2, 2022.
Greg Nash

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that an agreement on aid to Ukraine is imminent, setting the stage for the emergency funding to be combined with a larger government spending bill poised to get votes next week.

The news comes as lawmakers race to lock in a deal for aid to the country consumed by war with Russia. 

“We should probably have all of that done today, because we have to be on schedule for the omnibus,” she told reporters in the Capitol Wednesday.

“It’s the fastest thing,” she added, referring to the omnibus. “It’s the vehicle that’s leaving the station.”

The Biden administration has asked Congress to provide $6.4 billion in new aid to Ukraine, divided between funding to boost Kyiv’s military defenses and furnish humanitarian aid to the countless victims affected by the Russian invasion.

But some on Capitol Hill have suggested the number could be significantly higher. Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), senior Republican on Appropriations Committee, has floated $10 billion.

Pelosi on Wednesday declined to specify a top-line number, deferring to the negotiators. But she said those details should arrive by the end of the day.

“We’ll find that out,” she said.

While GOP leaders have been receptive to the new spending, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that there was a glitch: Democrats, he said, were seeking to pull the new military aid from Defense spending that Congress had allocated before Russia’s invasion — a strategy he said Republicans would oppose.

Pelosi on Wednesday appeared to side squarely with McConnell, saying neither the military nor humanitarian portions of the nascent aid package should dip into existing coffers.

“Some of the Ukraine money is not for defense; it’s humanitarian and all the rest of that. That comes out of the domestic side,” she said. “So we don’t want it coming out of either side.”

The Speaker said negotiators are also working to finalize “scores” of other appropriations-related issues in the broader omnibus spending bill, which would extend government funding through the end of the fiscal year.

But she said the sides are already “way down the road” on the omnibus talks and predicted an agreement would arrive in plenty of time to avoid the need for another short-term funding patch, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to prevent a shutdown.

“We would never have another CR,” she said. “No, we’re way down the road on that.”

Without Congressional action, large portions of the federal government would shut down on March 11. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that Democrats are aiming to vote on the entire package “hopefully as early as” March 8.

“I’ve urged us to get that done at the beginning of next week so the Senate can conclude it prior to the 11th,” he said.

Tags government funding military supplies Mitch McConnell monetary aid Nancy Pelosi Richard Shelby Russia-Ukraine conflict spending omnibus Steny Hoyer Ukrainian aid US aid to Ukraine
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