Following Saturday’s last-minute passage of a stopgap budget bill that will keep the federal government open for little more than a month, the state’s all-Democratic congressional delegation raised concerns that the measure doesn’t include more funding for Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion — and that the country may well be back in the same sticky position in weeks.
While it includes the additional funding for federal disaster relief that Democrats wanted, it lacks the $6 billion in funding sought for Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion. That support remains a priority for the Biden administration.
“[House Speaker] Kevin McCarthy sided with the Kremlin over Ukraine. Without Democrats stepping up to help him, his conference would have voted to shut the government down rather than support Ukraine’s fight for freedom,” said US Representative Jake Auchincloss of Newton in a statement over the weekend.
“I voted to keep the government open because it is the responsible thing to do,” Auchincloss said. “This vote is the last time I will support a GOP compromise that does not provide clear, credible, and concrete terms for supporting Ukraine.”
The budget package approved will fund the government until Nov. 17 — and many are concerned about the prospect of another legislative showdown just days before Thanksgiving.
“All we achieved on Saturday was averting a crisis,” said US Representative Seth Moulton, a Salem Democrat, in a phone interview Sunday afternoon. “A crisis manufactured by House Republicans.... Kevin McCarthy has been wholly subservient to the extremists in his party who are holding him and the entire House hostage.”
Moulton and Auchincloss, along with the rest of the state’s congressional delegation, voted for the budget bill.
Far-right Republicans seeking sweeping budget cuts had been facing off with McCarthy, a California Republican, in the days leading to the vote, only for the California Republican to side with Democrats and fund the government.
The bill was signed later that night by President Biden, and staved off a government shutdown that would have started Sunday.
In Massachusetts, a shutdown could have affected about 25,000 federal employees, and as well as vital services for thousands of residents, including food assistance, Head Start, and housing programs. It could have also had broad economic consequences: a month-long 2018 federal government shutdown cost the nation’s economy an estimated $11 billion.
Moulton said the GOP infighting is part of a “Republican civil war” playing out across the country: between Trump and old guard Republicans, and in Congress between “extremists versus everyone else,” he said.
“Speaker McCarthy needs to decide who he’s going to listen to, and how he’s going to lead,” Moulton said. “But if he just goes back to following the whims of these extremists, then we’re going to be in the exact same place 45 days from now.”
McCarthy did not respond to a request for comment Sunday afternoon.
Senator Ed Markey of Malden Sunday called on House Republicans to work with Democrats to pass a budget in November, and criticized the infighting that led to the near closure of the government.
“Speaker McCarthy and extremist House Republicans should send flowers and a thank-you card to House Democrats, who saved them and the American people from what would have been an entirely avoidable government shutdown,” Markey said in a statement.
US Representative Lori Trahan of Lowell said in a statement that the “American people deserve better than the Republican approach to governing, which lurches us from catastrophe to catastrophe with weeks of incompetence sprinkled in between.”
The nation averted a crisis, “but how many more times are Republicans going to tempt fate?” Trahan said.
US Representative Ayanna Pressley of Boston said in a social media posting: ” We prevailed because we centered the people, but shame on Republicans for letting it get to this point.”
Several members of the Massachusetts delegation, including Markey and Moulton, called for a separate vote on funding for Ukraine.
“We want it to happen as quickly as possible,” Moulton said, though there should be discussion on whether to provide more funding to Ukraine so the support lasts longer.
US Representative Katherine Clark, the House’s minority whip, said money is needed for Ukraine “so we can continue to defend their democracy and our own.”.
Clark blasted McCarthy for “playing chicken with the lives and livelihoods of the American people,” she said in a statement.
“They have brought us to the edge of a needless shutdown, trying to blackmail the country into accepting their extreme, right-wing agenda,” said the Revere lawmaker. “And today, Democrats came to the rescue. Speaker McCarthy admitted defeat and asked Democrats to put out the fire that he and his party had started.”
Original story HERE.