With minutes to spare, President Joe Biden signed a stopgap funding bill Saturday to avert a shutdown and keep the government open for 45 days.

In doing so, he capped a chaotic 24 hours that riveted much of Washington but left one of the White House’s top priorities, aid for Ukraine, in serious jeopardy.

Like others in the nation’s capital, the Biden White House had been caught off guard Saturday morning when Speaker Kevin McCarthy abruptly reversed course and announced that he would bring a clean, stop gap bill to fund the government through November 17, 2023.

But aides weren’t terribly surprised. They had assumed the government shutdown showdown would end this way at some point — with the main question being whether McCarthy would take his lumps before or after the funding deadline.

They weren’t displeased with the outcome either. The bill didn’t just fund the government, it also included $16 billion in disaster relief and, as one White House official noted, avoids “any version of the deep cuts to essential domestic programs that were proposed in the past few days.”

But the final measure did not include aid for Ukraine, and its absence was not just a blow for Biden but to Volodymyr Zelenskyy too. The Ukrainian president had just met with the president and lawmakers last week to once again make the case for additional funds for Kyiv’s defense against Moscow.

Inside the administration, aides attempted to downplay the exclusion. “Speaker McCarthy has stated his support for aid to Ukraine,” the White House official said, adding that they expected him to bring a separate bill to the floor “shortly.”

And Biden too stressed his expectation that there would be another attempt to pass Ukraine aid in the near term.

“While the Speaker and the overwhelming majority of Congress have been steadfast in their support for Ukraine, there is no new funding in this agreement to continue that support,” Biden said in a statement. “We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted. I fully expect the Speaker will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment.”

How much of that was spin, wishcasting, or solid intel was hard to tell. No one in the White House would say they received an actual assurance from McCarthy that he’d bring a measure up for a vote. Instead, two administration officials noted that McCarthy has never himself said he wouldn’t support aid to Ukraine. The view from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. was that the speaker couldn’t include it in a government funding bill, lest he incur a full bore insurrection from within his party. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t push it as a separate matter.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made assurances that funding for Ukraine aid remains a priority.

“We will not stop fighting for more economic and security assistance for Ukraine. Majorities in both parties support Ukraine aid, and doing more is vital for America’s security and for democracy around the world,” he said after the Senate’s passage.

There is certainly some Republican appetite to see that happen, too.

“Most Senate Republicans remain committed to helping our friends on the front lines,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier in the night. And Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he expected Ukraine aid to be included in the full year appropriations that Congress is set to complete later this year.

But the House GOP is a different beast. McCarthy’s office didn’t offer any response to a request for comment. However, POLITICO reported on Saturday that he had been open to including Ukraine aid in the stopgap funding bill but was unable to finalize language in time.

As the bill headed to the Senate floor Saturday evening, there were widespread expectations on Capitol Hill that a Ukraine-related vote would occur next week, given deep support in the Senate.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, when asked about the lack of fresh Ukraine money in the bill, said “we have to get to work on this issue” and suggested there would be a vote as soon as Monday.

“House Republicans will have a choice in the next few days when we reconvene on Monday.

Are they going to stand up for freedom, democracy and truth and the Ukrainian people, or will they continue to bend the knee to the pro-Putin caucus in the House Republican conference?” he said in a post-House vote news conference Saturday.

As news of the clean stopgap bill’s components emerged on Saturday morning, the White House kept in touch with Democrats on the Hill, monitoring (like them) the specific components of the legislative language. There was some intrigue over whether the measure authorized — or, more precisely, did not prevent — a cost of living adjustment for the salaries of congressional members. There also was some anxiety that House GOP leadership was trying to jam something through the chamber without giving lawmakers time to read it.

But, in the end, there were no readily visible poison pills. The White House kept its distance from the actual whip count operation, staying firm in its goal to keep Biden out of the process. Officials have insisted that the president brokered a funding deal with the speaker back in the spring and would not revisit that agreement.

There was no time to issue a formal Statement of Administration Policy, as is standard on major bills. Rank-and-file House Democrats got no guidance on the White House’s position, according to several people granted anonymity to discuss what would have been private discussions.

But the silence implied that the Biden administration didn’t oppose the bill, either. In the end, more than 200 House Democrats ended up backing the measure.

Myah Ward and Eun Kyung Kim contributed to this report.

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