Republicans block US Senate defense budget

Republicans block US Senate defense budget

The dispute over sanctions against the German-Russian pipeline contributed to the blockade of the US defense budget. Many Republicans want to block Nord Stream 2 from operating.

The US Senate did not ground the defense budget for the coming year. Republicans in the US Senate halted voting on the Defense Budget (NDAA) package on Monday evening (local time) using procedural rules. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell justified the move with the fact that Democrats refused to include changes to the law on Nord Stream 2 in the package. Following the change, US President Joe Biden will not have the option of waiving US sanctions due to Nord Stream 2 for national security reasons.

With the law amended, several Republican senators want to halt operation of the pipeline, which is supposed to bring gas from Russia to Germany, leaving Ukraine. Democrat Biden issued a special permit (“presidential waiver”) in May, freeing Switzerland-based Nord Stream 2 AG and its German managing director from US sanctions.

Democrats’ majority leader Chuck Schumer criticized the blockade as “unheard of”. Schumer said: “Democrats will continue to work to ensure that our troops are paid and that our critical defense programs can continue.” McConnell accused Schumer of late presenting the package and trying to stifle debate about “Russian aggression,” for example. He called Nord Stream 2 “the pipeline driving Putin’s invasion of Europe”. Democrats need the votes of several Republicans to vote on the defense budget in the Senate.

New rules should test relations with Germany

German-American relations are also likely to suffer if the new rules demanded by Republicans come to fruition. US news website Axios reported on Sunday, citing confidential documents from the German embassy in Washington, that the German government had warned Congress of sanctions regarding Nord Stream 2 – which would represent a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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In a year-long dispute over the project, the federal government and the Biden government announced a breakthrough in July. They published a joint statement promising support for Ukraine. Nord Stream was widely criticized by the US for two years. Biden acknowledged then that the US would no longer be able to stop the pipeline.

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