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White House threatened to veto funding bill if Ukraine aid requirement was included

The White House warned that President Trump could have vetoed a spending package to prevent a government shutdown if it included language from Democrats requiring future military aid for Ukraine to be released quickly.

The Washington Post first reported that Democrats sought to add a requirement into the government funding bill that would give the White House 45 days to release aid to Ukraine once Congress approves it.

The proposal came in response to Trump temporarily withholding nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine earlier this year, a move scrutinized by lawmakers as part of impeachment proceedings in the House against the president the past several months.

Trump is accused of refusing to release the funds over a push for an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, though he has insisted the aid was withheld for unrelated reasons.

The language was ultimately left out of the massive $1.4 trillion spending package approved this week and which Trump is expected to sign Friday. 

White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland confirmed to The Hill that the language could have triggered a veto.

“There were several red lines that could have triggered a Presidential veto, including provisions which were unconstitutional restrictions on the President’s authorities over Federal spending,” Ueland said in a statement to The Hill. “We made clear that the President opposed them. Together, negotiators found acceptable language that respected the Constitution, was supported by the President, and ultimately passed in Congress.”

A veto would have set up for a likely government shutdown just before the holidays.

When reached for comment, Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), told The Hill the negotiations were made “primarily by the Appropriations Committee and OMB [Office of Management and Budget].”

“These matters were two among dozens that had to be resolved in order to reach agreement on the two minibuses between both Houses of Congress and the White House,” he said. “The plot continues. Clearly, all roads to lead to Putin.”

– Jordain Carney contributed reporting

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