WASHINGTON―The U.S. House on Thursday passed legislation to make sure Ukraine can spend $250 million in military aid after White House delayed it this summer.
The language was among provisions tacked to a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown through Nov. 21 to buy more time for Congress’s spending negotiations. The Senate is expected to take up and pass the stopgap spending bill as-is next week.
The bill would extend for another year funding for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative that would otherwise expire after Sept. 30. The White House released the aid last week under pressure from lawmakers who said Ukraine needed to help in its ongoing conflict with Russian-backed separatists―though lawmakers expressed fears Kyiv would not have enough time to spend the money.
For the Defense Department, the stopgap spending bill would explicitly prevent new start programs and multi-year activities, with some limited exceptions.
The continuing resolution comes as Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked Republican plans to advance an appropriations package including $693 billion in defense spending for fiscal 2020.
Congress reached a bipartisan, two-year, budget deal in July which set funding levels for defense and non-military programs, but the president’s decision earlier this month to shift $3.6 billion in military construction funds to his border wall has complicated passage of individual spending bills.
The CR passed the House with a bipartisan 301-123, though one notable “no” was House Armed Services Committee ranking member Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, who said it brakes the budget deal’s promise of “stable and predictable funding” for the military.
“We cannot ask the troops once again to pay for Congress’s inability to get our work done, or hold them hostage to either party’s partisan desires,” Thornberry said.
Joe Gould was the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He had previously served as Congress reporter.