U.S. Congress unveils stopgap bill to avert shutdown, aid Ukraine

But Senator Richard Shelby, the senior Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a statement: "If the Democrats insist on including permitting reform, I will oppose" advancing this temporary funding bill." SPENDING BILL STILL EXPECTED TO PASS Even if Tuesday's procedural vote fails, House and Senate leaders are expected to switch gears to promptly pass the spending bill by their Friday midnight deadline. That is when government agencies run out of money with Saturday's start of a new fiscal year.


Reuters | Updated: 27-09-2022 19:06 IST | Created: 27-09-2022 19:06 IST
U.S. Congress unveils stopgap bill to avert shutdown, aid Ukraine

The U.S. Senate will take an initial vote on a stopgap spending measure on Tuesday to keep federal agencies running past the end of this week, while Congress continues to negotiate bills to fund the government through the next fiscal year. President Joe Biden's Democrats control both chambers of Congress and are expected to avoid an embarrassing partial government shutdown just six weeks before the Nov. 8 midterm elections, when control of Congress will be at stake.

The bill, which would extend overall government funding through Dec. 16, calls for $12.3 billion in new money to help Ukraine turn back Russia's invasion, House of Representatives Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro said in a statement. This includes new military and economic assistance. In addition, the measure authorizes Biden to direct the drawdown of up to $3.7 billion for the transfer to Ukraine of excess weapons from U.S. stocks.

In early September, Biden requested $11.7 billion in military and economic aid. Amid reports of Russian forces threatening the safety of Ukraine's nuclear power plants and Russian President Vladimir Putin hinting that he might use nuclear weapons against Ukraine, the legislation would appropriate $35 million "to prepare for and respond to potential nuclear and radiological incidents in Ukraine," according to a summary of the bill.

Congress has resorted to this kind of last-minute temporary spending bill in 43 out of the past 46 years due to its failure to approve full-year appropriations in time for the Oct. 1 start of a federal fiscal year, according to a government study. A Tuesday evening Senate procedural vote is designed to speed action once Democrats and Republicans put the finishing touches on legislation.

MANCHIN'S PERMITTING BILL A BARRIER The first vote's outcome was unclear because of a fight over an add-on by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who pressed to include an unrelated measure to speed up the government's permitting process for energy projects.

The proposed legislation includes permitting reform provisions and directs $250 million from the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act to "improve and accelerate reviews for designated projects." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urged his fellow Republicans to vote against the temporary funding bill because of the Manchin provision, Politico reported. A McConnell aide did not respond to requests for comment.

Some Democrats and environmentalists also are opposed, fearing it would spark more development of fossil fuel projects at a time when the effects of climate change from carbon emissions are accelerating. While Republicans normally favor quicker government reviews of fossil fuel projects, they have been angry at Manchin since he helped Democrats pass a bill this summer addressing climate change and lowering some healthcare costs.

"This is a positive movement. And I would hope my friends would look at it that way," Manchin said in an interview with CNN, referring to the inclusion of his permitting reforms in the temporary funding bill. But Senator Richard Shelby, the senior Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a statement: "If the Democrats insist on including permitting reform, I will oppose" advancing this temporary funding bill."

SPENDING BILL STILL EXPECTED TO PASS Even if Tuesday's procedural vote fails, House and Senate leaders are expected to switch gears to promptly pass the spending bill by their Friday midnight deadline.

That is when government agencies run out of money with Saturday's start of a new fiscal year. Also included is a five-year renewal of Food and Drug Administration user fees being collected from drug and medical device companies to review their products and determine whether they are safe and effective, the bill summary showed.

The law authorizing the collection of fees expires on Friday. Fresh funding for coronavirus aid and monkeypox vaccines that had been sought by Democrats did not make it into the legislation. DeLauro said she would continue pushing for such funding.

With cold winter weather looming across the United States, the legislation provides an additional $1 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program "to help address pressure on low-income households’ pocketbooks due to inflation," DeLauro said. The last time Congress allowed funding to lapse was in December 2018, when Democrats balked at paying for then-President Donald Trump's U.S.-Mexico border wall. Following a record, 35-day impasse and partial government shutdown, Trump found ways to circumvent Congress to some degree, but the wall never was completed.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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