House Democrats plan to introduce a massive bill on Tuesday that would extend government funding through the end of September — and include about $10 billion to help shore up Ukraine, according to two Democratic sources. But they are staging a clash with Republicans over which Covid relief money should be included in the broad scheme.
A Democratic source familiar with the matter said Sunday that Covid relief money would be included in the package – a move that would challenge Republicans to block a package that includes money for Ukraine. While aid to Ukraine is an urgent priority with bipartisan support, Republicans are widely opposed to more Covid relief money, arguing that a full accounting of the funds already allocated is needed before it goes away. there are new expenses.
But Democrats are also focused on securing more funding to respond to the ongoing pandemic.
Republicans are already pushing back against the administration’s demand for more Covid money.
Senate GOP Whip John Thune said Thursday there was strong opposition in the GOP conference to the request for $22.5 billion in additional Covid funding.
“I think there’s just a general belief that there’s still a lot of money going around,” said Thune, from South Dakota. “And that before we post more, we need to report on that. And I think that even includes people who might otherwise be inclined to support some of the things that would be included in it.”
For the bill to pass the Senate and avoid a shutdown before the March 11 deadline, all 100 senators must agree to hold a final vote. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday he wants the bill passed by his chamber by Thursday.
“Negotiations on the spending bill are going very, very well,” Schumer, a New York Democrat, said Sunday, adding that he was “hopeful and optimistic” that the chamber could pass the spending bill. spending, including aid to Ukraine by Thursday.
But it’s unclear if they’ll push the bill through by then, given that many Republicans oppose putting Covid relief money in the package, while other Republicans are demanding enough time to review the sprawling measure once it is introduced.
In a letter to Schumer last week, a group of Republican senators led by Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Rick Scott of Florida raised concerns about inflation and the national debt and called for “a comprehensive review” of a bill finalized by the Congressional Budget Office as well as the “proper time” for senators to consider a finished brief.
Negotiations on the voting schedule are expected to begin later this week.
If there’s no agreement in the Senate to hold a final vote, or if Democrats don’t have 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, they may have to strike another deal to pass a short-term stopgap. to avoid a stoppage.
CNN’s Ali Zaslav, Phil Mattingly, Veronica Sctracqualursi, Pooja Salhotra contributed to this report.