19:01 GMT +317 October 2019
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    In this May 4, 2017, file photo, the U.S. flag flies in front of the Capitol dome on Capitol Hill in Washington

    US Lawmakers Agree on Budget Deal With Massive Defense Funding Increase

    © AP Photo / Susan Walsh, File
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Lawmakers in the US Congress reached a bipartisan deal Wednesday to keep funding the government through 2018 to avert a shutdown.

    "With the biggest increase in defense funding in 15 years, this critical legislation begins to reverse the damage of the last decade," Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement.

    Meanwhile, Congress minority leader Chuck Schumer said on Twitter the pact included many of Democratic priorities for the middle class.

    ​"From opioid funding to rural broadband, from student loans to child care, this bill puts workers and families first," he announced.

    The draft of the US budget allocates, among other things, $250 mln for countering "Russian influence". "Not less than $250,000,000 shall be made available to carry out the purposes of the Countering Russian Influence Fund… and programs to enhance the capacity of law enforcement and security forces in countries in Europe and Eurasia and strengthen security cooperation between such countries and the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as appropriate," the draft reads.

    Also, the blueprint earmarks $200 million for military assistance to Ukraine, including lethal aid. "For the ‘Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative’, $200,000,000 is hereby appropriated, to remain available until September 30, 2018," the draft read.

    "Provided, That such funds shall be available to the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to provide assistance, including training; equipment; lethal weapons of a defensive nature; logistics support, supplies and services sustainment; and intelligence support to the military and national security forces of Ukraine, and for replacement of any weapons or defensive articles provided to the Government of Ukraine."

    The draft budget for the remainder of this fiscal year also unlocks almost $1.6 billion in funds for the construction of fencing on the Mexican border, which is not nearly as much as $25 billion initially sought by the administration of President Donald Trump. However, congressional Democrats equally failed to bar any wall spending at all.

    In January, US government stopped operations because of delays in the adoption of a temporary bill on the financing of institutions, however, the Congress adopted a budget for the period until February 8

    In February, there was a brief shutdown, which finished with both the US House of Representatives and Senate enacted a continuing resolution to keep the government funded for six more weeks.


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