Did Biden and McCarthy strike a secret Ukraine side deal? Republicans and Democrats stoke suspicion after Ukraine funding was cut from spending bill – DAVID RAUDALES

DAVID RAUDALES

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DAVID RAUDALES UK

Did Biden and McCarthy strike a secret Ukraine side deal? Republicans and Democrats stoke suspicion after Ukraine funding was cut from spending bill

Kevin McCarthy with President Joe Biden at an Oval Office meeting on the debt ceiling on May 22.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Lawmakers this week were buzzing about a secret Ukraine side deal between Biden and Kevin McCarthy.Billions of dollars in funding for Ukraine were left out of a last-minute spending bill.But any deal the two struck was likely rendered moot after McCarthy was ousted from his speaker role Tuesday.

The political drama unfolding in Washington, DC, as former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted from his leadership role is likely to have implications far beyond the nation’s capital.

Republicans and Democrats alike were stoking suspicion about a possible secret Ukraine “side deal” struck by McCarthy and Biden over the weekend as the California Republican raced against the clock to avoid a government shutdown.

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida invoked the alleged Ukraine deal in a speech on the House floor Monday as he began the effort to remove McCarthy from his speaker role. The House voted in favor of the motion on Tuesday in an unprecedented move that left the chamber in chaos.

Six billion dollars worth of additional funding that Ukraine says it desperately needs was dropped from a short-term spending bill passed at the last minute over the weekend in a 335-91 vote. All but one Democrat voted in favor of the bill, while 90 Republicans voted against it.

The removal of Ukraine funding briefly stopped Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, from supporting the Senate version of the bill, but he ultimately fell in line with his colleagues after Senate leadership hinted at a future for the funding.

“In the coming weeks, we expect the Senate will work to ensure the US government continues to provide critical and sustained security and economic support for Ukraine,” the Senate statement said.

Biden ramped up speculation about a side deal on Sunday when CBS News asked him if he could trust McCarthy “when the next deal comes around.”

“We just made one about Ukraine,” Biden said. “So, we’ll find out. “

McCarthy, however, denied making a bargain with Biden, telling reporters on Monday that there was no secret plan.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, meanwhile, added fuel to the fire on Monday as she avoided specific questions from reporters about the existence of a Ukraine deal, but noted that the administration expects McCarthy to “keep his word” on his previous support for providing Ukraine with necessary weapons.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday that Biden has “every expectation” McCarthy will “keep his public commitment to secure the passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment.”

Ongoing financial and military support for Ukraine amid the country’s 19-month war against Russia has become a flashpoint for lawmakers in DC.

But any deal that McCarthy may have struck with Biden or other Democrats over the weekend was likely rendered moot after he lost his leadership role on Tuesday.

The vote came soon after Biden tried to ease fears about the sudden lack of support for Ukraine in a call with 11 heads of state. But without additional funding, the Pentagon has only a few months of funding left to maintain current spending rates in Ukraine, Kirby said.

“A lapse in support will make Putin believe he can wait us out, and that he can continue the conflict,” Biden said on the call, according to Kirby. “A strong signal of support now and into the next year will make it clear to Putin that he’s wrong.”

Read the original article on Business Insider