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Top Democrat in US House urges passage of Ukraine aid bill by end of next week

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Washington, March 14

The top Democratic lawmaker in the US House of Representatives has urged the chamber’s GOP members to pass a foreign aid package containing funding for Ukraine by the end of next week and send it to President Joe Biden’s desk for signature.

“The clock is ticking, and we have to get the bipartisan national security bill over the finish line before we leave town next Friday, March 22,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said on Wednesday during a press briefing on Capitol Hill.

“It’s reckless to do otherwise,” the New York Democrat said.

House Majority Leader Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, does not oppose more aid to Ukraine, but he has been blocking a vote on the $95 billion foreign aid package — of which some $60 billion will be offered to Ukraine — that recently passed in the Senate. His reasoning is that the bill lacks sufficient measures to strengthen security at the US southern border, Xinhua news agency reported.

While Jeffries has virtually no control over which particular piece of legislation gets a vote on the floor, pressure has been mounting on Johnson to bring the foreign aid bill up, with the White House saying it will surely gain enough votes to get passed if Johnson lifts his hold.

Jeffries in his remarks at the press briefing pointed to Polish President Andrzej Duda, who visited Washington and met with Jeffries and Johnson on Tuesday, saying the Polish leader “was so strongly supportive of making sure we continue to support the Ukrainian effort.”

After meeting with Duda, Johnson in a post on X praised Poland as “a strategic partner in promoting a free and prosperous future and in advocating for greater defence spending by our European partners”.

Alternatively, the Biden administration on Tuesday announced an additional tranche of security assistance to Ukraine worth 300 million dollars, money that became available from cost-savings in the Pentagon’s contracts with domestic weapons manufacturers to replenish US stocks.

“The House of Representatives must pass the bipartisan national security supplemental as soon as possible,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said of the legislation containing the Ukraine aid during a press briefing at the White House on Tuesday.

“We all know that if it came up for a vote, it would pass on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis, just as it did in the Senate,” he added.

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