House Approves $40 Billion Aid Package for Ukraine

Featured, Government

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks after a May 10 White House meeting with President Biden alongside members of the congressional delegation that recently visited Ukraine. | Image by Oliver Contreras, The Washington Post

On Tuesday evening, the Democratic-led House of Representatives passed a roughly $40 billion bill delivering aid to Ukraine as its challenges against Russia’s invasion continue.

The measure passed 368-57, with all 57 opposition votes coming from Republicans.

Representative Andy Biggs (R-Arizona), who voted against the measure, tweeted: “I oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but we can’t help Ukraine by spending money we don’t have.”

The measure must now receive 60 votes in the Senate before President Joe Biden can sign it into law. The Senate could hold a vote as early as this week.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said earlier on Tuesday that once the House approved the package, the Senate would “move swiftly” to pass the measure.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) praised the measure before the vote, saying that the package would build “on robust support already secured by Congress” and “help Ukraine defend not only its nation but democracy for the world.”

Aid to Ukraine has been a rare point of bipartisanship as both Democrats and Republicans rally around the call to help the nation under Russian attack. The package passed with nearly three out of every four House Republicans voting in its favor.

“As China, Iran, and North Korea watch our response, we must show the world that America stands firm with its allies and will do what is necessary to protect our interests abroad,” said Representative Kay Granger (R-Texas), the top Republican on the appropriations committee.

The new legislation will bring the total amount of U.S. aid sent to Ukraine to nearly $54 billion, including the $13.6 billion Congress approved in March. That amount is roughly $6 billion more than the U.S. spent on all its foreign and military aid in 2019 and around 1% of all government spending.

The House-approved bill increases the presidential drawdown authority to $11 billion, more than double the Biden administration’s original $5 billion request. Presidential drawdown authority permits the administration to send weapons and other military equipment from U.S. stockpiles. The package signed into law in mid-March contained $3 billion of drawdown authority funding.

The package includes $6 billion to arm and train Ukrainian forces, $8.7 billion to restore American stocks of weapons shipped to Ukraine, and $3.9 billion for U.S. forces deployed to the area. Nearly $9 billion is earmarked for economic support of Ukraine, $4 billion will go to help Ukraine and allies finance arms and equipment purchases, and $900 million is set aside for housing, education, and other help for Ukrainian refugees in the U.S.

The House vote came after Biden called on Congress on Monday to “immediately” pass the aid bill, urging lawmakers to get it done in “the next few days.”

Biden had previously appealed to Congress to include additional pandemic relief funding in the same bill for the Ukrainian aid. However, on Monday, he announced that leaders advised him to decouple the effort to expedite delivering further assistance to Ukraine.

“We cannot afford delay in this vital war effort,” Biden said. “Hence, I am prepared to accept that these two measures move separately, so that the Ukrainian aid bill can get to my desk right away.”

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