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McCarthy backtracks, says he will keep Ukraine aid in Pentagon funding bill

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Saturday that he will keep Ukraine aid in the Pentagon funding bill, a reversal from his announcement one day earlier that he would strip the money out due to opposition from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).

McCarthy told reporters in the Capitol that he decided to keep the $300 million of Ukraine aid in the bill after recognizing that another spending measure set to come up next week — one that funds the State Department and foreign operations — also includes money for Kyiv.

The Speaker said stripping the Ukraine aid out of the State Department and foreign operations measure “becomes more difficult to do,” which led him to decide to keep the money for Kyiv in both measures.

The House next week is set to take a single procedural vote to advance four appropriations bills, including ones that fund the Pentagon and the State Department and foreign operations.

“That’s not solving it, because one of the others has some Ukraine things,” McCarthy said of stripping the Ukraine aid out of the Pentagon appropriations bill. “So it became too difficult to do that, so we’re leaving it in.”

The House, however, will vote on amendments to strike the Ukraine aid from both the Pentagon and State Department spending bills, Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) said. But those votes may not take place if lawmakers block the measures from being debated.

McCarthy’s decision to leave Ukraine aid in the pair of appropriations bills will likely spark opposition from Greene, who opposed a procedural vote to advance the Pentagon appropriations bill Thursday because it included the funding for Kyiv. The congresswoman has come out against sending additional money to Ukraine.

McCarthy told reporters that he expects Greene to oppose the procedural vote to advance the four spending bills because of the inclusion of Ukraine aid.

“I think Marjorie still has a problem,” McCarthy told reporters.

“I think she’ll vote no on the rule if it’s in there. That’s why I was trying to solve it where everybody could be there,” he later added. “But this one, it didn’t work out.”

A coalition of House conservatives broke from convention and opposed the rule for the Pentagon appropriations bill twice this week, blocking the legislation from moving forward to debate and a vote on final passage. The failed votes dealt blows to McCarthy, who has sought to move spending bills ahead of a Sept. 30 government funding deadline.

Votes on rules — which govern debate for legislation — are normally partisan and predictable matters, with the majority supporting voting “yes” and the minority party voting “no.” It is very rare for rules to fail on the floor.

Greene supported the rule Tuesday but voted against it Thursday, citing the Ukraine aid.

The Pentagon funding bill includes $300 million “to provide assistance, including training; equipment; lethal assistance; logistics support, supplies and services; salaries and stipends; sustainment; and intelligence support to the military and national security forces of Ukraine, and to other forces or groups recognized by and under the authority of the Government of Ukraine, including governmental entities within Ukraine, engaged in resisting Russian aggression against Ukraine, for replacement of any weapons or articles provided to the Government of Ukraine from the inventory of the United States.”

In an effort to flip Greene’s vote, McCarthy announced Friday that he would strip the Ukraine funding out of the spending bill and hold a separate vote on it.

Greene, who has become a close McCarthy ally, told The Hill in a statement Friday that she was “proud to have made it happen,” but added the removal of Ukraine funding from the legislation “should have happened weeks ago.”

She noted, however, that the House was set to consider “another appropriations bill with tons of cash in it for Ukraine” next week, adding “so we’re likely going to do this all over again.”

McCarthy spoke to that reality Saturday.

“Now when we put the [State Department and foreign operations] too, there’s Ukraine money in that too, and that becomes more difficult to do. I was trying to find a way to solve the problem, that if we were just voting on the [Defense] approps bill I think I could have solved that, this one makes it a little more difficult,” he told reporters.

Updated at 3:55 p.m. ET

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