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Before the ink was even dry on President Biden and Speaker McCarthy’s debt limit deal, senators were carving out ways to get around spending limits by passing ’emergency’ bills to boost defense spending and the war in Ukraine.
Some House Republicans are balking at putting the nation further into debt to pay for a foreign war.
Defense spending became a front-and-center issue for GOP negotiators working with the White House.
Republicans wanted more, President Biden wanted less. They ultimately settled on Biden’s request for fiscal year 2024 – $886 billion, a three percent increase that Senate hawks said amounted to a cut when factoring for inflation.
In fiscal year 2025, the cap would be $895 billion – a one percent increase from 2024.
GOP. Sen Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, questioned why House Republicans would accept a Biden budget request he called ‘anemic numbers’ as Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., called the figure a ‘mortal risk to our national security.’
Before the ink was even dry on President Biden and Speaker McCarthy’s debt limit deal, senators were carving out ways to get around spending limits by passing ’emergency’ bills to boost defense spending and the war in Ukraine. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer walks through the falls after the Senate passed the bll
‘To my House colleagues— I can’t believe you did this,’ Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Thursday. ‘Don’t tell me that a defense budget that is $42 billion below inflation fully funds the military.’
‘This is where the House and Senate tend to see things differently,’ one House GOP aide told DailyMail.com.
Senate Republicans found a work-around: if funding the war in Ukraine is classified as emergency supplemental funding, they don’t have to count it toward the cap on military spending.
Since the start of the war nearly a year and a half ago, the U.S. has given Ukraine over $113 in its battle against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
‘We just passed a bill that caps spending. We know Democrats wanted no caps on spending. It is exactly what we fought for and we must defend the caps,’ Rep. Warren Davidson, a Foreign Affairs Committee member, told DailyMail.com in response to the Senate promise of more Ukraine funding.
He cited his letter to Secretary Antony Blinken demanding he ‘define a clear mission’ for the U.S.’s involvement in Ukraine.
‘There’s not an appetite on the conservative side of the House to provide additional aid to Ukraine,’ an aide to a House GOP member who voted for the debt limit deal told DailyMail.com.
Rep. Nancy Mace, who opposed the deal, warned of the lawmakers using the ’emergency’ work-around so spend more before the final vote.
‘DCs little secret: Congress acts like it will restrict appropriations but then wait until an emergency like a hurricane, market stabilization, Ukraine, etc. Using emergency supplemental bills is how DC gets around caps and why this deal is worse than it sounds. This is DC math,’ she wrote on Twitter.
A Ukrainian military helicopter fires during military drills. Since the start of the war nearly a year and a half ago, the U.S. has given Ukraine over $113 in its battle against Russian President Vladimir Putin
Emergency supplemental funding has been used for Ukraine before, including in a bill the president signed last year. It’s also been proposed to beef up Covid-19 funding, climate and abortion services.
The Senate ultimately passed the debt limit deal 63-36, with 31 Republicans and five Democrats voting against it. One day earlier the House passed it 314 to 117 with 149 Republicans joining 165 Democrats to approve the bill.
But in a rare step ahead of the final debt limit vote, Senate Leaders Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., entered a joint statement into the congressional record promising the deal would not block spending for Ukraine or other national defense needs.
‘This debt ceiling deal does nothing to limit the Senate’s ability to appropriate emergency supplemental funds to ensure our military capabilities are sufficient to deter China, Russia and our other adversaries,’ Schumer said in additional remarks on the Senate floor, ‘and respond to ongoing and growing national security threats including Russia’s evil ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine.’
As White House national security spokesman John Kirby put it Friday: ‘We have done an awful lot of work in the last several months to make sure that we’ve filled out their shopping list and they’ve got what they need.’
Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s much-needed allies from the right-wing Freedom Caucus, voted in favor of the debt limit deal, but are known to oppose further Ukraine aid.
Jordan, who signaled he does not support additional Ukraine funding again to DailyMail.com on Friday, said in a recent Fox Business interview: ‘I’m all for helping Ukraine. I just don’t think it should be the American taxpayer continuing to give and give.’
Subtle tensions have long stewed below the surface between House and Senate Republicans.
The lower chamber tends to fall more in line with the grassroots Republicanism of a post-Trump world – focused on messaging battles and firing off party-line wins. The Senate, ever the more deliberative and cautious body, in the words of Kevin McCarthy: ‘doesn’t do much.’
Classic neoconservative hawks permeate the Senate, while isolationist-minded firebrands dot the makeup of the House. The House has taken the lead on oversight of Ukraine assistance.
A Ukrainian serviceman observes an area from a trench at a position near the frontline town of Bakhmut. Emergency supplemental funding has been used for Ukraine before, including in a bill the president signed last year. It’s also been proposed to beef up Covid-19 funding, climate and abortion services
Most GOP House members who voted for the Biden-McCarthy deal were quiet on the Senate’s promise of supplemental spending, but it’s far from clear that additional Ukraine aid would make it through the House.
‘I think a lot of House members are back in their districts and not paying attention to the Senate’s promises, but there will be an issue with this,’ another GOP aide to a member who voted for the deal told DailyMail.com.
House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik told DailyMail.com the Senate could make any promises they want to bypass funding caps but it would be up to the Republican-led House to call the shots.
‘The Senate ultimately voted for the House bill, the Fiscal Responsibility Act. The House has driven legislative tempo, the policy agenda from start to finish this Congress and I see no reason that that’s going to change.’