House passage of $40 billion Ukraine aid bill expected, Senate next

WASHINGTON — A new $40 billion aid package for Ukraine headed toward home passage on Tuesday, as lawmakers stepped up President Joe Biden’s initial request and signaled increased U.S. involvement in the Russian president’s bloody three-month-old invasion to thwart Vladimir Putin.

The measure was expected to garner broad bipartisan support and was $7 billion more than Biden’s plan last month, split evenly between defense and humanitarian programs. The law would provide military and economic aid to Ukraine, help regional allies replenish weapons shipped overseas by the Pentagon, and provide $5 billion to help address global food shortages caused by the war, which has left the normally robust Production of many crops in Ukraine was paralysed.

The new legislation would bring American support for the effort to nearly $54 billion, in addition to the $13.6 billion in support Congress passed in March. That’s about $6 billion more than the US spent on all of its foreign and military aid in 2019, according to a January report by the bipartisan Congressional Research Service, which examines issues for lawmakers. It is also around 1% of the total federal budget.


“Time is of the essence and we cannot afford to wait,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote in a letter to colleagues with Ukraine’s brave people until victory is achieved.”

The measure came as Washington grew more confident in its goals and its willingness to help Ukraine with more sophisticated weapons. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently said the US wanted a “weakened” Russia that could not quickly restore its ability to attack other countries.

Russian attacks on Ukraine’s southern port of Odessa have intensified in what appears to be an attempt to thwart western arms shipments. These weapons have helped Ukraine hold up surprisingly well against its deadlier enemy, but the grueling war is taking its toll.


Senate approval of Ukrainian aid appears secure, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other Republicans have reiterated the need for quick action. However, it was unclear when this would happen and changes to the measure were possible, with McConnell insisting that the measure was closely focused on the war.

“I think we’re well on our way to getting there,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday. “It has to be free of irrelevant things directly related to helping the Ukrainians win the war.”

Some Republicans used the election-season debate to accuse Biden of being unclear about his goals.

“Honestly, don’t we deserve a plan?” said Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas. He said he agreed Western countries need to help Ukraine hold its own against Russia, but added: “Doesn’t the government have to tell us, where are we going with that?”

Oksana Markarova, Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States, attended the separate luncheons of the Democratic and Republican Senates on Tuesday and expressed her gratitude for the support they received. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said Makarova told them her country had depleted its stockpiles of Soviet-era weapons and said continued support for NATO was vital.


Coons said the Ukrainian’s message was: ‘Thank you, do more. We have a tough fight ahead of us. With your support we can win.”

The new measure includes $6 billion for arming and training Ukrainian forces, $8.7 billion for restoring American stockpiles of weapons shipped to Ukraine, and $3.9 billion for US forces, who are stationed in the region.

There is also $8.8 billion in economic assistance to Ukraine, $4 billion to help Ukraine and its allies fund arms and equipment purchases, and $900 million for housing, education and other assistance for Ukrainian refugees in the USA

To improve the measure’s chances in Congress, the House bill drops Biden’s proposal to ease the path to legal permanent residence for qualified Afghans who fled to the United States after Americans withdrew from that country last summer. Some Republicans have raised concerns about the adequacy of security controls for applicants.

In their biggest concession, Biden and Democrats on Monday abandoned plans to include additional billions of dollars to build U.S. stockpiles of drugs, vaccines and tests for COVID-19. Republican support for more pandemic spending is waning, and including that money would have slowed Ukraine’s action in the 50-50 Senate, where at least 10 GOP votes are needed for passage.


Democrats hope to create a separate COVID-19 package soon, though its fate is unclear.

Biden met with Pelosi and six other House Democrats, who recently traveled to Ukraine and Poland, in the White House Situation Room on Tuesday. Afterwards, Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., a member of that delegation and a former Army Ranger, said the Ukrainians need advanced drones and longer-range weapons like artillery, missiles and anti-ship missiles that will help them push back the Russians.


Associated Press writer Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. House passage of $40 billion Ukraine aid bill expected, Senate next

Justin Scacco

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