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    White House says it can no longer promise Ukraine more U.S. aid is coming – National | Globalnews.ca

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    The White House said Thursday that it cannot now promise Ukraine that it will receive more military, economic and humanitarian aid from the United States to help counter the Russian invasion, as Congress continues to block the funding.

    Senate Republicans voted unanimously Wednesday to block an emergency spending bill to provide $110.5 billion in funding for Ukraine, Israel and other security needs, while demanding policy changes to control the flow of immigration through the border between the United States and Mexico. Similarly, Republicans in the US House of Representatives have vowed to block any funding for Ukraine that is not tied to increased limits on asylum, expanded deportations and other conservative immigration proposals.

    Asked Thursday whether the White House can offer assurances to Ukraine that it will receive additional funds, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said no.

    “We are not in a position to make that promise to Ukraine given the situation in Congress,” he said.

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    The language marked a marked change in tone after weeks of assurances from U.S. President Joe Biden and top military and diplomatic leaders to their Ukrainian counterparts that the United States will continue to support Ukraine despite the political stalemate.

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    Biden’s original $106 billion national security funding request included about $61 billion for Ukraine. The White House has said the new money is critical as existing funds run out, estimating they will have completely exhausted those funds by the end of this month.

    The White House budget director told congressional leaders in a letter Monday that failing to approve the new aid would “weaken” the war effort and kyiv’s economic recovery. The military aid is primarily intended to replenish U.S. weapons and equipment stockpiles with new equipment to replace those sent to Ukraine, which officials say will also be harmed if new aid is not approved.

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    Biden’s proposed emergency national security aid package that was blocked in the Senate, known as the supplemental, includes about $20 billion for security funding at the U.S.-Mexico border. But Republicans insist on backing that money with policy changes.

    Democrats and Republicans had negotiated for weeks to add immigration policy changes to the security bill to get enough Republican votes to pass it.

    Those talks broke down last Friday, with Reuters and the Associated Press reporting that emotions ran so high that a classified Senate briefing on Ukraine on Tuesday erupted into a shouting match that several Republicans stormed out of.

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    The heated dispute is also delaying aid to Israel, although for different reasons. While the current Senate bill ties Israel to Ukraine, the border and other issues, the House last month passed a separate $14.3 billion Israel aid bill that includes cuts to the Internal Revenue Service. Internal to be able to pay it. The White House and Senate Democrats have rejected that approach.

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    “We only have two ways left to get out of the stagnation. Either Republicans can accept an amendment offer or we can restart negotiations,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said as he opened the chamber Thursday.

    Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, repeated claims that Democrats are not taking border security seriously enough, but said he hoped for a deal.

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    “Hopefully, the Senate can now see a new opportunity to make real progress on legislation that addresses urgent national security priorities both at home and abroad,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

    Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, who has been a lead negotiator in immigration talks with Republicans, said the two sides would meet Thursday.

    “We need more constructive ideas from Republicans that can get Democratic votes. “I’m willing to listen,” he said.

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    Biden said Wednesday that he was willing to make “serious compromises” with Republicans on immigration policy to get aid to Ukraine approved. But the White House rejected the “all or nothing” approach taken by some Republicans and criticized the party for using aid to Ukraine to get its way.

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    “They are playing chicken with our national security,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Thursday. “History will remember them harshly.”

    Lawmakers said Congress should not take a Christmas break in mid-December without legislation being completed.

    “It would be legislatively irresponsible for our Republican colleagues to decide to come home to celebrate the holidays when our allies remain engaged in existential struggles that directly relate to America’s national security,” said the top House Democrat, Rep. Hakeem. Jeffries said at his weekly news conference.

    Amid uncertainty over aid, Ukraine this week signed deals with two American companies to manufacture artillery shells as kyiv seeks to develop a national defense sector. But Ukrainian officials acknowledged that it could be at least two years before those operations are up and running.

    “For us, it is a matter of survival to create a military industry that matches the scale of the enemy’s industrial capacity,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said at a US-Ukraine defense conference in Washington.

    President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the conference that Ukraine did not want to rely solely on military aid from its allies and aspired to become a security donor to its neighbors in the future.

    —with Reuters files

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    White House says it can no longer promise Ukraine more U.S. aid is coming – National | Globalnews.ca

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