Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he is “hoping” that “we will have the paperwork done today, rule done today and we’ll have it on the floor tomorrow morning.” That leaves Tuesday to wrap up the outstanding issues. Hoyer is also advising members that they will likely have to return to D.C. on Friday to deal with whatever the Senate might send back to them and get the funding bill on President Joe Biden’s desk before the midnight deadline.
There’s a big wrinkle in all that on the Senate side coming from Republicans—specifically coming from Minority Leader McConnell, who is having a hissy fit over a provision in the bill that extends pandemic relief to allow schools to serve universal free meals.
He won’t say why he wants to make children go hungry, but he “is not budging,” one person involved in ongoing negotiations told Politico. “It hurts everybody in every state. These are things Republicans want.”
That’s while, as of now, the Ukraine aid is linked to the spending bill, so you could rightly argue that McConnell is standing in the way of crucial aid to Ukraine in pursuit of making kids go hungry. He might have just picked this one provision to object to in order to get something else he might want to have happen: decouple the Ukraine aid from the spending bill and pass it. That would shield Republicans from blowback for delaying that aid. And it would force Democrats to pass another continuing resolution to keep government funded and eat up more time.
Hoyer told reporters that they might end up “dividing the question” and split up the various parts of the spending bill, like separating Ukraine aid and probably Pentagon spending from the rest. House progressives would like to have Ukraine aid as a standalone vote, and to be able to vote against the defense budget. So that’s a possibility.
The Biden administration bumped up its initial $10 billion to $12 billion on Monday for humanitarian, military, and economic assistance. As of now, that’s tied to the omnibus spending bill, which could also include $15 billion in pandemic funding. That’s down substantially from the $22.5 billion the administration requested to shore up public health programs to combat the next variants and to provide more vaccines internationally. About a dozen Senate Republican have threatened a shutdown over this and other COVID-19 issues.
In addition to trying to fund government and help Ukraine, lawmakers are pushing to punish Russia, including some kind of action on oil imports above and beyond what Biden plans, allowing the administration to impose tariffs on other Russian imports, suspending Russia from the World Trade Organization, and ending its status as a normal trading partner—what used to be called “most favored nation” status.
These measures might be voted on this week in the House as well, but what with trying to pass government funding and go on retreat, that looks iffy. Particularly with the ongoing Republican games in the Senate.
On the good news front (because there is some), the Senate finally passed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, a process that only took a century and 200 attempts. It also moved one step closer to passing the Postal Service Reform Act, with final passage expected Tuesday. There’re still some problematic amendments lurking out there, including one from Sen. Pat Toomey that would ban the Postal Service from providing banking services, including the current service of providing money orders. The bill is pending in the Senate, pending that amendment negotiation process.
Emmett Till Antilynching Act passes Senate
Senate Republicans threaten a government shutdown and delay in aid to Ukraine