The White House on Thursday ramped up pressure on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to approve its request to tie aid for Ukraine with increased disaster relief funding ahead of a government funding showdown.
“Lives are at stake across a wide range of urgent, bipartisan priorities for the American people that are addressed in President Biden’s supplemental funding request – a request that honors the funding commitments he and both parties in both chambers made to the American people,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates told CNN.
“Like Senate Republicans, Speaker McCarthy should keep his word about government funding. And he should do so in a way that acts on these pressing issues – including fentanyl, national security, and disaster response – rather than break his promise and cave to the most extreme members of his conference agitating for a baseless impeachment stunt and shutdown,” Bates added.
The push comes as tension among Republicans in Congress is mounting while lawmakers face an end-of-month deadline to avoid a government shutdown. The White House has called on Congress to pass a short-term spending bill to keep the government running while congressional leaders hash out major differences.
The White House is also pressing Congress to fulfill Biden’s supplemental funding request, which asks for more than $24 billion in additional funding for the US effort to support Ukraine and $16 billion in disaster relief funds.
While the White House wants those two funding items passed together, McCarthy is considering breaking them apart, according to GOP sources, setting up a showdown not just with the White House but also with Senate Republicans.
Leaders in the Senate want to see the Ukraine aid and disaster relief funding tied to a short-term funding resolution, but the GOP remains sharply divided on Ukraine aid as some hardliners in the House have demanded it be stripped out.
House and Senate Republicans are also navigating differences on overall spending levels after McCarthy agreed to push for deeper cuts than outlined in the deal he made with the White House to raise the debt ceiling following demands from the right flank of his party. The two chambers remain about $153 billion apart in funding levels for the federal government for the fiscal year that starts October 1.
The White House has amplified its pressure on congressional Republicans in recent weeks ahead of the looming government funding deadline, trying to highlight issues that have bipartisan support like addressing the fentanyl crisis that are at risk if Congress doesn’t act. White House officials have also pushed back on Republicans, like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, who said they won’t vote to fund the government unless the House also holds a vote on an impeachment inquiry into Biden.