WASHINGTON, Oct 1 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden on Sunday pressed congressional Republicans to back a bill to provide more aid to Ukraine, saying he was “sick and tired” of the political brinkmanship that nearly led to a government shutdown.
Biden spoke after Congress passed a stopgap bill on Saturday that extended government funding for more than a month and avoided a shutdown that would have left most of the federal government’s more than 4 million employees without a paycheck and cut a wide range of services.
The bill, which lasts through Nov. 17, did not include aid for Kiev. The United States has been a major supporter of Ukraine after Russia invaded it last year, and Biden has sought to rally the world, as well as his own country, to maintain that support.
Biden said Republicans had pledged to provide that aid through a separate vote.
“We cannot under any circumstances allow America’s support for Ukraine to be interrupted. I fully expect the speaker to keep his commitment to secure the passage and support needed to help Ukraine as they defend themselves against aggression and brutality,” he told reporters at the White House.
Asked if he could trust McCarthy to honor deals, Biden said: “We just made one about Ukraine, so we’ll find out.”
A White House official said Biden was referring to Republican promises of passing a separate bill on the issue.
Biden assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a visit to Washington last month that strong U.S. support for his war to repel Russian invaders would be maintained despite opposition from some Republican lawmakers.
Biden urged Republicans to move ahead quickly to avoid another crisis in November.
“The brinkmanship has to end. And there shouldn’t be another … crisis,” he said. “I strongly urge my Republican friends in Congress not to wait. Don’t waste time as you did all summer. Pass a year-long budget agreement. Honor the deal we made a few months ago.”
Biden declined to weigh in on whether Democrats should support McCarthy if he needed their votes to keep his job as House speaker. The president said he would leave that to Democratic leaders in Congress to decide.
Reporting by Jeff Mason; additional reporting by Jason Lange and Leah Douglas; editing by Scott Malone, Grant McCool and Nick Zieminski
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