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Congress has tentative deal on spending bill to avert shutdown, expected to pass to help Ukraine

Earlier this week, Senate Republicans appeared opposed to additional COVID spending in bill without audit of previously allocated money

Published: March 9, 2022 9:01am

Updated: March 9, 2022 9:23am

Congressional negotiators early Wednesday morning appeared to have struck a bipartisan agreement for a $1.5 trillion spending package to keep the federal government fully operational past Friday that includes $13.6 billion to help Ukraine and billions more in pandemic-relief money.

That Democrat and Republican negotiators increased the funding for Ukraine and European allies from the $10 billion requested by the White House, suggesting Congress is united against the Russian invasion of Ukraine and will approve the measure with little or no opposition, then get it to President Biden's desk before the weekend deadline. 

"War in Europe has focused the energies of Congress to getting something done and getting it done fast," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, according to the Associated Press

The Democrat-controlled House is expected to vote Wednesday, before Democratic members leave for a retreat in Philadelphia, then the Senate will vote within the next three days. 

Russia's now roughly two-week-long invasion is targeting major Ukraine cities and is creating Europe's worst refugee crisis since World War II.

The 2,741-page spending bill, if passed, will fully fund the federal government through the end of the year.

Still, in anticipation of the so-called "omnibus" bill stalling, the House plans to pass a bill Wednesday keeping agencies afloat through March 15, the Associated Press also reports.

Earlier this week, Senate Republicans appeared opposed to additional COVID-19 spending in the bill without an audit of previously allocated money.

Over $4 billion of the Ukraine aid will go toward Eastern European nations trying to accommodate the 2 million Ukraine refugees who’ve already fled the fighting. And $6.7 billion is for the deployment of U.S. troops and equipment to the region and to transfer American military items to Ukraine and U.S. allies, the wire service also reports

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the measure also provides loan guarantees to Poland to help it replace aircraft it is sending Ukraine. 

"It needs to be passed," the Kentucky Republican said of the measure. "It needs to be passed quickly."

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