The Senate passed a short-term spending bill on Thursday that would avert a partial government shutdown when the current fiscal year ends at midnight Friday and provide another infusion of military and economic aid to Ukraine as it seeks to repel Russia's invasion. The bill finances the federal government through Dec. 16 and buys lawmakers more time to agree on legislation setting spending levels for fiscal 2023. It passed by a vote of 72-25, the AP reports, and now goes to the House for consideration. "The last thing the American people need right now is a pointless government shutdown," Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.
As has become routine, lawmakers waited until the final hours before the shutdown deadline to act. But passage of a bill to fund the government was hardly in doubt, particularly after Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin agreed to drop provisions designed to streamline the permitting process for energy projects and greenlight the approval of a pipeline in his home state of West Virginia. Still, the bill merely puts off for a few months the maneuvering that will be required after the midterm election to pass a massive government funding package, as negotiators will have to bridge their differences over spending on hot-button issues such as abortion, border security, and climate change. The bill approved Thursday, with some exceptions, keeps spending at agencies at current levels through mid-December.
The most notable of those exceptions is the more than $12 billion that will be provided to aid Ukraine, on top of more than $50 billion provided in two previous bills. The money will provide training, equipment, and logistics support for the Ukraine military, help Ukraine's government provide basic services to its citizens, and replenish US weapons systems and munitions. In addition to Democrats, Republican leader Mitch McConnell voiced support for the Ukraine aid, while admonishing the Biden administration to get it out the door quickly. "Assisting Ukraine is not some feel-good, symbolic gesture," McConnell said. "It's literally an investment in our own national security and that of our allies."
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