Tuesday, June 18, 2024

US House passes stopgap bill but Israel, Ukraine wait endlessly for aid

The US House passed a stopgap measure to keep government funding open to federal agencies, but President Joe Biden’s $106 billion funding package for Israel and Ukraine remains stuck as the two war-ravaged countries fight an existential crisis while Republicans and Democrats fight internal battles “mindlessly” in the House, media reports said.

The House of Representatives did manage to take steps Tuesday to avert a threatened government shutdown, passing a plan to temporarily fund the federal machinery. However, the Senate still needs to approve the measure, which would only delay the next funding deadlines until early next year, reports said.

The people of Israel and Ukraine are waiting in vain for billions of dollars in help from the US as they wage existential fights for their futures; media reports said criticising Congressmen of inaction and fighting their own battles in the House.

“The 118th Congress, which took an initial step to punt funding deadlines to the winter, looked more like a fourth-grade class on a day that will further erode trust in government ahead of next year’s elections,” a prominent US Media network said.

Though the House voted for temporary reprieve, it was enough to expose the forces that could soon tear the chamber apart again. With 93 Republicans opposing the bill, Conservatives wonder what rookie Speaker Mike Johnson would do as he had failed to include massive spending cuts that GOP hardliners want in the bill, political analysts at CNN said.

The Democratic-run Senate or the White House would certainly oppose any deep spending cuts as it runs roughshod through the party’s social welfare programmes. That would guarantee a shutdown that would damage the GOP and bring pain to millions of Americans, the analysts said.

This may go down well with some hard right-wingers in the Congress who abhor Washington and see chaos as a “worthy goal”. “But on the eve of President Joe Biden’s critical summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the political tomfoolery will only bolster perceptions among US adversaries that America’s global power is being undermined by polarization at home,” CNN said in its analysis.

Kevin McCarthy, the ousted Speaker of the House, was accused of delivering a painful blow to Rep. Tim Burchett, one of the GOP rebels who was among right-wingers who removed him from holding the gavel in the House. “It was a clean shot to the kidneys,” the Tennessean told CNN.

McCarthy denied the claim, blaming a tight hallway for the collision. Quick-witted McCarthy said: “If I kidney punched someone, they would be on the ground. But that wasn’t even the fiercest showdown of the day.”

Democratic Rep. Jared Moskowitz was engaged in a bitter exchange with House Oversight Chairman James Comer over the latter’s probe into the Biden family’s business affairs.

Georgia’s Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, normally the ringmaster of the Capitol Hill circus, found herself overshadowed.

Donald Trump-style stunt politics has often become dominant in the Capitol. Congress is consumed by fighting within and between the parties. And the febrile mood is only likely to intensify in the coming election year. Normal standards of decorum and respect have been thrown in the trash, and nearly three years after the Capitol insurrection, trust is fractured, political analysts at the network said.

Congressional leaders said the near altercations and foul tempers reflected the stress of an extraordinary session that saw the House sit for 10 weeks in a row, ignoring the fact such behaviour would be a sackable offence in many workplaces.

“Everybody’s tensions are high,” McCarthy said. South Dakota Sen. John Thune – a member of GOP leadership – noted with understatement that “we are living in fairly polarized times”. He said: “There is a lot going on not only here but around the world. Emotions are running high.”

Some people might see heart-breaking footage from the Middle East following the horrendous Hamas attacks against civilians and the carnage in Gaza wrought by Israel’s response – as a reason for greater seriousness among the nation’s leaders, analysts said.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, however, suggested that policing the Capitol was beyond even his wily capacity to enforce discipline within his conference. “It’s very difficult to control the behaviour of everybody who’s in the building. I don’t view that as my responsibility. That’s something the Capitol Police will have to deal with,” the Kentucky Republican said.

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