WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives on Tuesday adopted a $ 40 billion military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine 368-57 – to choose to provide Kyiv with $ 7 billion more than President Joe Biden originally requested in his additional request last month.

The bill is now awaiting a vote in the Senate, where it is expected to be passed with strong bipartisan support.

Most of the funding is intended to strengthen Ukraine’s efforts to repel the Russian invasion, with $ 34.7 billion set aside for military aid, the largest tranche in Congress so far.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has cost thousands of innocent lives, devastated cities across the region and fueled a humanitarian crisis, rising costs and food insecurity around the world,” said Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn, chairwoman of the House Budget Committee. . “In March, Congress convened quickly to support the people of Ukraine and defend global democracy.

In March, Congress appropriated $ 13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine as part of a government funding bill that passed a small portion of the package now before the House.

“With the ongoing attack on Russia, we must act with the same urgency to secure this additional emergency funding,” DeLauro said. “We have a moral responsibility to provide this support to help end the heavy loss of life, to hold Putin and his entourage accountable, and to protect global democracy.

Democrats initially considered a proposal to tie it to COVID aid, which Republicans withheld during a separate immigration-related vote. However, the decision to pass it as a stand-alone bill avoids this battle and ensures that it arrives at Biden’s desk relatively soon.

The new package contains $ 11 billion in funding to allow Biden to continue transferring US military equipment to Ukraine through the presidential withdrawal body, his preferred means of quickly providing assistance to the Ukrainian military. Biden is left with only $ 100 million of the $ 3.5 billion Congress has allocated to transfer military equipment such as Javelin anti-tank missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to the power to pull the president.

The additional also includes $ 8.7 billion to replenish stocks that have already been shipped to Ukraine under a withdrawal permit. Cumulative funding of $ 19.7 billion represents a significant increase from the $ 10.4 billion in withdrawal powers the White House requested in its original addendum.

“In the bipartisan and bicameral negotiations to assemble this package, there was interest among members to add additional funding for military and humanitarian aid,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, wrote in a letter to Democrats. “The final bill will be in line with the president’s request, with the exception of additional funding for military and humanitarian aid.

The Defense Ministry’s Security Assistance Initiative is also expected to receive a $ 6 billion boost to provide equipment, supplies and logistical support to the Ukrainian military after Biden quickly burned through Congress $ 300 million provided to the fund. in March.

Another $ 3.9 billion will be funded by US forces stationed in Europe, including the deployment of the Patriot missile battery. The Biden administration has promised to increase the presence of troops on NATO’s eastern flank following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“With this help, the United States is sending a powerful message to the Kremlin oligarchs: we remain firmly convinced that Ukrainian freedom will triumph over Russian fascism,” said Republican Donald Norcross, DN.J., chairman of the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee. in a statement.

In addition, the bill will set aside $ 500 million to replenish stocks of critical munitions in the United States. So far, the Biden administration has transferred at least 5,500 Javelins and 1,400 Stingers to Ukraine – which includes one-third and one-quarter of US stockpiles for each system, respectively.

Ukraine and NATO’s eastern flanks will also have access to a total of $ 4 billion in external military funding – grants to help countries to buy equipment from US defense manufacturers.

At the request of the Biden administration, Congress also provided $ 600 million to speed up missile production and expand domestic access to critical minerals through the Defense Manufacturing Act. Biden intends to use this Korean War-era law, which allows the federal government to direct private companies to prioritize deliveries to customers that are critical to U.S. national security to alleviate some of the supply chain’s problems. who torment the defense industrial base.

The package also includes $ 100 million in demining funds that Ukrainians have requested.

Finally, the bill requires inspectors general of the Pentagon and the State Department to monitor Ukraine’s aid funds.

Bryant Harris is a congressional reporter for Defense News. It covers the intersection of US foreign policy and national security in Washington since 2014. He has previously written for Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera and IPS News.

https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2022/05/10/house-to-vote-on-40-billion-ukraine-aid-package/

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