Senate bill to block shutdown funds Ukraine aid, Columbia-class sub

By Tony Bertuca / September 26, 2023 at 6:03 PM

Senate appropriators have released a bipartisan stopgap funding bill that would avert a government shutdown through Nov. 17, while providing military aid to Ukraine and allow the Defense Department to obligate money to begin construction of the Columbia-class submarine.

The Senate’s proposed continuing resolution, however, is set to run into the GOP-led House’s deeply divided debate, where it will be dead-on-arrival with some Republicans who oppose continued aid to Ukraine.

The Senate bill would provide nearly $4.5 billion in emergency funding for the Defense Department to “respond to the situation in Ukraine and to refill U.S. military inventory,” according to a summary released by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA).

President Biden had requested nearly $10 billion in military aid.

The CR would also provide the State Department with $1.65 billion to aid Ukraine.

The Pentagon said earlier this month that it has nearly $6 billion remaining in congressionally appropriated funds used for transferring weapons to Ukraine. The amount also includes $3 million for the DOD inspector general’s office to continue its oversight of Ukraine aid.

The bill would also allow DOD to spend money on the Columbia-class submarine program, which the White House has said it needed to avoid a 20-month program delay. Typically, a CR prohibits DOD from increasing weapons production or beginning new programs.

The bill would also extend authority to provide protection and personal security for former or retired DOD officials for the duration of the CR.

Meanwhile, it is unclear how -- or if -- the House will be able to advance its own CR as Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) can only rely on a narrow majority to pass legislation without the help of Democrats, who do not support many of the GOP’s fiscal and social policy proposals and have been uniformly voting against Republican spending bills.

Congress has until Oct. 1 to pass a CR if it is to avoid a government shutdown.