The US House of Representatives approved more than $40 billion more in aid for Ukraine on Tuesday as Congress races to keep military aid flowing and boost the government in kyiv as it grapples with the Russian invasion.
The House passed Ukraine’s spending bill 368 to 57, with every negative vote coming from Republicans. The measure now heads to the Senate, which is expected to act quickly.
President Joe Biden had asked Congress to approve an additional $33 billion in aid for Ukraine two weeks ago, but lawmakers decided to increase military and humanitarian funding.
“This bill will protect democracy, limit Russian aggression, and strengthen our own national security, while most importantly supporting Ukraine,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat who chairs the House Appropriations Committee. of Representatives, and urged support for the spending package.
Biden had called on Congress to act quickly so he could enact the bill before existing defense aid for Ukraine runs out at the end of May.
Some Republicans opposed the bill and criticized Democrats for moving too quickly to send too many US taxpayer dollars abroad. Biden’s fellow Democrats narrowly control Congress, but the bill will need Republican votes to pass the Senate.
Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, asked Democratic and Republican senators for help at their weekly Tuesday luncheons.
“It was a very heartfelt and easy-to-understand message: Your people are dying; they are running out of supplies and ammunition. They need our help fast. Thanks for all our help. Please. Speed up,” Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin said after Markarova spoke.
Republican Sen. Rob Portman, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and leader of the Ukraine caucus in the Senate, said he hoped enough Republican support would get the bill through the Senate.
“I think it will be approved. There will be significant Republican support,” he said.
Billions for weapons
The package includes $6 billion for security assistance, including training, equipment, weapons and support; $8.7 billion to restock US equipment shipped to Ukraine and $3.9 billion for European Command operations.
In addition, the legislation authorizes another $11 billion in the Presidential Retirement Authority, allowing the president to authorize the transfer of goods and services from US stocks without congressional approval in response to an emergency. Biden had asked for 5,000 million.
It also authorizes $4 billion in foreign military funding to support Ukraine and other countries affected by the crisis.
The United States has rapidly shipped more than $3.5 billion in weaponry to Ukraine since Russia invaded, including newly revealed howitzers, Stinger anti-aircraft systems, Javelin anti-tank missiles, ammunition and “Ghost” drones.
Funds give humanitarian aid
The new aid package also includes humanitarian assistance: $5 billion to address global food insecurity due to the conflict and nearly $9 billion for an economic support fund for Ukraine.
It provides hundreds of millions of dollars to help refugees and fund efforts to seize the assets of oligarchs linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose government has called the invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation.”
The war has killed thousands of civilians, forced millions of Ukrainians from their homes and reduced cities to rubble. Moscow has little to show for it beyond a strip of territory in the south and marginal gains in the east.
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