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U.S. Congress nearing deal to aid Ukraine, fund government

Economy Mar 08, 2022 04:41PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden announces new steps requiring government to buy more made-in-America goods during remarks in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building's South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 4, 2022. REUT 2/2

By Richard Cowan and David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. congressional negotiators on Monday were nearing a deal on a bill to provide Ukraine with billions of dollars in emergency aid, as well as fund the U.S. government through Sept. 30 and provide money to address COVID-19.

Lawmakers were racing against a midnight Friday deadline for passing such a sweeping bill, before existing funds are exhausted. Failure to meet the deadline would either require another stop-gap funding bill or force partial government shutdowns during a time of international crisis.

Congressional sources with knowledge of the negotiations said Democratic and Republican leaders were hoping to unveil the legislation as early as Tuesday but stressed that talks were not complete. Republicans said they were concerned about spending new money on the COVID-19 pandemic, insisting that billions of dollars allocated last year remained unspent.

"It's coming together. A lot will depend on how they deal with the COVID aid," Senator John Thune, the chamber's No. 2 Republican, told reporters. Thune said he expected any stop-gap bill needed to meet the Friday deadline to be for "a very short amount of time."

Lawmakers acknowledged that a floor schedule truncated by a Wednesday retreat for Democratic lawmakers could pose a hurdle. "That makes the timetable a little tougher," Senator Dick Durbin, the chamber's No. 2 Democrat, told reporters.

Congressman Steny Hoyer, the no. 2 House Democrat, told reporters that he expected the chamber's Rules Committee to meet on Tuesday and for a vote on the House floor to take place no later than Wednesday.

The White House had requested $10 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine, which is trying to fend off an invasion by Russia. On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made a "desperate plea" for help directly to members of the U.S. Congress.

Democrats were also seeking funding to bolster the nation's response to the COVID-19 pandemic -- an expenditure some Republicans questioned.

The third prong of the potential funding bill is thought to appropriate around $1.5 trillion for Washington to run defense and non-defense discretionary spending, which must be renewed each year. The current fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

Democrats hoped to use strong public support for helping Ukraine to pressure Republicans into passing the sweeping "omnibus" bill funding the government, after four bills this fiscal year that extended the previous year's funding levels temporarily.

Congressional Democrats also were trying to start salvaging the unfinished parts of U.S. President Joe Biden's domestic agenda and respond to voters' demands to address inflation while also bolstering high-tech jobs to compete with China.

Last month the government pegged the U.S. inflation rate at 7.5%, a 40-year high far above the Federal Reserve's 2% target.

Prices for everything from rents to gasoline and food have risen at a time when Democrats are trying to improve their standing with voters in the run-up to Nov. 8 congressional elections that will determine whether they can hold onto thin majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives.

Biden, in his State of the Union address last week, sketched out a more moderate path following a year of aggressive spending of around $3 trillion to tame the COVID-19 pandemic and invest in infrastructure improvements.

It is up to the president and his fellow Democrats in Congress to figure out how to unite warring progressive and centrist wings of the party on a narrower series of domestic investments now that his $1.75 billion "Build Back Better" initiative is in ruins.

Senate Republicans, however, could stand in the way of some of these initiatives, citing rising budget deficits. That could prompt Democrats to revisit using a special procedure known as "reconciliation" to pass some legislation without Republican support.

U.S. Congress nearing deal to aid Ukraine, fund government
 

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Comments (11)
ajay jayaraj
ajay jayaraj Mar 08, 2022 5:45PM ET
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yeaaa....defend their borders but not our own. remember folks.... this administration is fighting racism as long as it's not Russian racism.
Jerry Weber
Jerry Weber Mar 07, 2022 8:16PM ET
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Let the nukes go!!! This is all over greed! ****everyone and see how much your money is worth then! Quit crippling the world over greed!!!
Miles Mathewson
Miles Mathewson Mar 07, 2022 7:25PM ET
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This old senile is going to kil_l us all. Impeach him now ! Lock him up !
Petet Larkar
Petet Larkar Mar 07, 2022 3:29PM ET
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ole sock needs to man up and send troops in
Ac Tektrader
Ac Tektrader Mar 07, 2022 3:15PM ET
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the keystone pipeline would have had little effect on gasoline prices in the US. The products produced on that grade of crude would have ended up in China.
Ac Tektrader
Ac Tektrader Mar 07, 2022 3:11PM ET
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the administration didn't stop the shale producers from pumping tthe price of crude market did. the shall producers have started to pump again because crude is well above the av price for their GRADE the price they need to make a proft. currently above $85 go.
Jerry Weber
Jerry Weber Mar 07, 2022 3:11PM ET
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Bull, you know little! Thats a fact, jack!!!
James Pattison
James Pattison Mar 07, 2022 9:33AM ET
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Bring back the keystone pipeline… reissue the cancelled leases… bring back the energy independence we had under the last admin please… this inflation is crushing the middle class and lowest wage earners…
First Last
First Last Mar 07, 2022 9:33AM ET
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The US extracts more fossil fuel out of the ground now than at beginning of Biden's term
John Walker
BURT Mar 07, 2022 9:33AM ET
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If you zoom out, we started moving towards energy independence (net imports) since 2009. So if you must give credit, include the Obama administration. Oh, you can Biden too because we are still “energy independent” but that doesnt fit your narrative…
Ac Tektrader
Ac Tektrader Mar 07, 2022 9:33AM ET
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I see william is getting his info from fox and Pravda....
James Pattison
James Pattison Mar 07, 2022 9:31AM ET
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Democrats aim to creat more poor people as they rob the nation of its wealth and give it to their children… if they are the party of the poor and disenfranchised they will always work to creat more poverty and disenfranchised… its called… expanding thier base
Jack Peterson
Jack Peterson Mar 07, 2022 9:01AM ET
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Our DemocRATic leaders are completely out of touch and disconnected from their constituency… November 2022 can’t get here soon enough.
Wayne Cammack
Wayne Cammack Mar 07, 2022 7:20AM ET
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Our current situation is because of the Democratic agenda. We dont want it anymore.
 
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