Date: 23 October 2023

Paralysis in the House of Representatives and the aid to Ukraine

On October 3, 2023, U.S. House of Representatives voted to remove Speaker Kevin McCarthy from his position as leader of the chamber. The tally was 216 to 210 with eight Republicans siding with Democrats to remove him from the speakership. This marked the first time in history that the House removed its leader while the ouster paralyzed the legislative branch of the government. The absence of a speaker appeared no closer to a consensus for bipartisan cooperation in Congress.

SOURCE: REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

In January 2023, Republican Kevin McCarthy was elected speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives after fifteen ballots. McCarthy, an ally to former President Donald Trump, eventually clinched the speakership after he had agreed to several concessions from extreme House Republicans, who accused the newly appointed speaker of following an insufficiently conservative agenda.

Theoretically, the acting speaker has all tools but in practice, they do not have the power to run the chamber or develop a bipartisan consensus.

Congress is paralyzed without a speaker and cannot adopt spending bills that must be approved by November 17. Shockwaves in U.S. Congress raised prospect that aid for Ukraine, provided by the U.S. Senate in a separate bill, will be eventually stripped. Funding for Ukraine would be $24 billion, as requested by Joe Biden, and not $6 billion, thus the amount specified in a spending bill.

Some U.S. Republican lawmakers resist any funding request from Biden that combined military aid for Israel and Ukraine, amid resistance from some Republicans to further assistance for Kyiv.

U.S. President Joe Biden asked Congress for $24 billion in military assistance for Ukraine; however, further military funding for Kyiv has been excluded from a last-minute budget deal. In addition, with strong Democratic support and significant GOP backing, there is a broad bipartisan consensus for assisting both Israel and Ukraine.

The White House said Ukraine and Israel would receive necessary military equipment as both states used different types of anti-aircraft missiles and were not competitors for military aid. The Biden administration is now racing against the clock as Congress must approve spending bills by mid-November to stave off a government shutdown.
Paweł Rudnik Graduate of the Master’s Degree in National Security at the Pomeranian University in Słupsk, specializing in International Security. President of the student branch of the Młodzi dla Polski Słupsk association. His main areas of interest are the topics of the Three Seas Initiative, Central and Eastern European security, international relations, history policy and diplomacy.


1. (October 10, 2023)

2. (October 11, 2023)

3. (October 11, 2023)

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