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Senate passes funding bill, preventing shutdown and clearing nearly $14 billion in Ukraine aid

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to reporters following the Senate Democrats weekly policy lunch at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., March 1, 2022.
Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters

The Senate passed a $1.5 trillion funding bill Thursday night to keep the government running through September and bolster both humanitarian and military efforts in Ukraine.

The legislation will head to President Joe Biden for his signature. The House passed it on Wednesday.

Congress had to approve a spending bill by Friday to prevent a government shutdown. Lapses in funding can lead to furloughs of federal workers, hinder the economy and force the government to scale back services.

Lawmakers passed a full-year spending bill after keeping the lights on for months through temporary continuing resolutions, which fund the government at existing levels.

The bill passed Thursday includes $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine as the country enters its third week of fighting off a Russian invasion. The money will go toward helping the Ukrainians displaced by the Russian assault, including the more than 2 million people who have fled the country.

It will also fund the deployment of military equipment and troops to Europe.

“We’re giving the Ukrainians billions for food, medicine, shelter, and support for the over two million refugees who have had to leave Ukraine, as well as funding for weapons transfers like Javelins and Stingers,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said ahead of the vote.

The House had to scrap $15.6 billion in supplemental coronavirus relief funds from the plan after a dispute over how to meet Republican demands to offset the spending. While the House aims to pass the pandemic aid bill next week, it may not have enough GOP support to get through the Senate.

Schumer said Congress “absolutely must” try to approve more coronavirus aid in the coming weeks.

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