Senate passes $39.8 billion Ukraine aid bill, sending measure to Biden’s desk

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The Senate has passed legislation providing another $39.8 billion to help Ukraine bolster its defenses against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion after passage of the aid was stalled last week.

After the measure cleared the House with overwhelming backing from members of both parties last week, the 86 to 11 sends the bill to President Biden’s desk for his signature All 11 senators who opposed the latest aid package are Republicans.

The president had urged Congress to approve additional assistance to Ukraine swiftly as earlier authorities to provide military supplies to Ukraine were close to running dry.

Mr. Biden said “Together with the contributions of our allies and partners, we will keep security, economic, food, and humanitarian assistance flowing to Ukraine, across the region, and around the world, and further strengthen Ukraine — both on the battlefield and at the negotiating table,”

Biden also announced another package of security assistance providing more artillery, radars and other equipment to Ukraine.

“These weapons and equipment will go directly to the front lines of freedom in Ukraine, and reiterate our strong support for the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their country against Russia’s ongoing aggression,” the president added.

In anticipation of opposition to the new round of assistance from some Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell implored senators on both sides of the aisle to support the package.

“Anyone concerned about the costs of supporting a Ukrainian victory should consider the much larger cost should Ukraine lose,” he said in remarks on the Senate floor before the vote. “The most expensive and painful thing America could possibly do in the long run would be to stop investing in sovereignty, stability and deterrence before it’s too late.”

The emergency aid will “meet the large needs of the Ukrainian people as they fight for their survival,” and he lambasted the Senate Republicans who earlier in the week opposed advancing the legislation. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said

“While most senators in both parties want this package done, it’s beyond troubling to see a growing circle of Senate Republicans proudly oppose Ukrainian funding,” he said. “It appears more and more MAGA Republicans are on the same soft-on-Putin playbook that we saw used by former President Trump.”

The $39.8 billion proposed by Congress for Ukraine is more than the $33 billion in additional security, economic and humanitarian assistance that Mr. Biden requested last month. The measure includes $6 billion to provide training, equipment, weapons and intelligence support to Ukraine’s military forces, $4 billion to Ukraine and other countries affected by Russia’s war, including NATO Eastern flank countries and other partners, and $3.9 billion for U.S. troops in the region.

The package also directs $8.7 billion to the Pentagon to replenish stocks of weapons it’s sent to Ukraine and nearly $8.8 billion to help Ukraine continue its government functions.

Democratic and Republican leaders both pushed for quick approval of the assistance. But late last week, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky delayed the measure as he pushed for language to be added to the bill that created a special inspector general position to oversee the Ukraine spending.

The package already requires a Pentagon inspector general to report on spending activities and includes $5 million for oversight at the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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