Biden Signs Stopgap Spending Bill To Avert Shutdown, Buys Time On Ukraine Aid

Measure Keeps Government Open With Compromise On Timing

San Francisco, CA – President Biden signed legislation Thursday funding federal agencies into early 2024, avoiding a disruptive government shutdown for now despite bitter Congressional divisions over Ukraine and Israel assistance.

Biden approved the temporary spending bill on the sidelines of an economic summit here, a day after the Senate overwhelmingly backed the short-term fix hashed out by new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The deal keeps money flowing by compartmentalizing spending timetables rather than tackling them comprehensively.

The so-called continuing resolution bill keeps the government open and lights on. But it conspicuously omits the billions in emergency Ukraine wartime funding Biden requested, as well as increased aid for Israel the GOP insists must be coupled to it.

With the stopgap now signed into law, Democrats and Republicans will try negotiating long-term appropriations covering the remainder of the fiscal year. But the omissions showcase deep partisan rifts sure to resurface over defense spending, foreign aid levels and wider budgetary constraints.

By segregating end dates, Congress sidestepped an immediate shutdown threat while likely just kicking the can into 2024 on disputes holding up full-year funding. The White House sanctioned the tactical retreat as preferable to agency paralysis, despite grousing on excluded Ukraine assistance considered vital to repelling Russia.

“At this point there is no clear path for those funding requests to even come up for a vote,” a senior administration official conceded.

That gridlock may ease with time. But for now, vital economic and military support for Ukraine remains hostage to growing polarization in Washington.

Biden’s signature avoids one crisis even as it guarantees future battles. With government operations assured into next year, both parties gain breathing room to haggle or stall based on their agendas. Watching from Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky cannot be assured the lifeline he needs will keep flowing unhindered.

Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore under CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic