US House passes $40 billion aid package for Ukraine with broad bipartisan support
WASHINGTON — The United States House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to provide an additional $40 billion in economic, humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine as its troops continue to fight the Russian invasion.
The legislation, released hours earlier, is now going to the US Senate, where leaders hope to quickly send the bill to President Joe Biden’s office, though procedural hurdles in that chamber could slow the process.
House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, said in a statement announcing the bill that U.S. lawmakers “have a moral responsibility to provide this support to help end the loss of life. , hold [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and his cronies are accountable and protecting global democracy.
Alabama Republican Rep. Robert Aderholt gave the first signal that GOP lawmakers would support the measure, saying, “In short, this is a good bill and I would encourage my colleagues to vote yes. “
The House voted 368 to 57 to pass the bill.
Second aid package
The new legislation, the second aid package since Russia began a war in Ukraine in late February, would bring total U.S. investment in a conflict that has become something of a proxy struggle for democracy to nearly $54 billion.
Congress approved a $13.6 billion relief package in March, but funding quickly dwindled as Ukrainian forces used military aid to hold onto large swathes of their country, including the capital kyiv.
Biden asked lawmakers in late April to replenish US funding for Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion, saying an additional $33 billion was needed to aid Ukrainian forces as well as provide economic and humanitarian assistance. .
“This so-called additional funding again meets the needs of the Ukrainian military during critical weeks and months,” Biden said from the Roosevelt Room of the White House. “And that begins the transition to longer-term security assistance that will help Ukraine deter and continue to defend against Russian aggression.”
US House Democrats have increased that funding request by billions of dollars, saying they believe more money is needed for military and humanitarian aid.
“In the bipartisan and bicameral negotiations to put this package together, there was interest among MPs to add additional funding for military and humanitarian assistance,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
The bill would provide the US Department of Defense with $8.7 billion to replenish stocks of US military equipment that went to Ukraine; $6 billion in security assistance for the Ukrainian military and national security forces; and $3.9 billion for European Command Operations.
The US State Department would receive $13.9 billion for refugee aid, food aid, economic aid, anti-human trafficking and military funding.
Another $4.4 billion would go to the US Agency for International Development to provide food aid to people around the world who are experiencing food shortages as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The funding is expected to last around five months, although there is uncertainty about how long Russia’s war in Ukraine will last or what the country will look like in the months and years to come.
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that “the next month or two of fighting will be important as the Russians attempt to reinvigorate their efforts.”
“But even if they succeed, we are not convinced that the fighting in Donbass will actually end the war,” Haines said, referring to the region in eastern Ukraine where the Russian military has gain territory.
Instead, Haines said Russian President Vladimir Putin is “preparing for a protracted conflict in Ukraine” that includes taking land outside the Donbass region.
Putin, she said, is counting on the “resolve of the United States and the European Union to weaken as food shortages, inflation and energy prices worsen.”
No COVID-19 expenses
The additional Ukraine aid agreement will not include additional funding to fight the COVID-19 pandemic at home and abroad, although Biden and Democrats are pushing for the bill progresses with relief legislation in Ukraine.
Biden asked Congress for $22.5 billion for tests, treatments and vaccines in March, but a $10 billion deal between Utah GOP Senator Mitt Romney and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was left hanging for weeks.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, opposed adding COVID-19 relief to the Ukraine aid package.
He also called for a floor vote on an amendment to keep Title 42 in place, saying the most likely place for that to happen is on the coronavirus relief bill.
This Trump-era designation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allows Border Patrol agents to refuse migrants at the Southwest border during the public health crisis.
The CDC plans to end that program later this month, a move that prompted a rebuke from Republicans and concerns from centrist Democrats that the administration was not fully prepared to handle the expected influx of migrants. .
Biden signaled on Monday that he agreed to delink COVID-19 aid from the new Ukraine funding bill, saying in a statement that Republican and Democratic leaders told him “that such an addition would slow action on urgently needed Ukrainian aid.” ”
Biden, however, renewed his efforts to get lawmakers to quickly find a way forward on a bipartisan coronavirus relief agenda.
“Without timely COVID funding, more Americans will die unnecessarily,” he said.