House approves $40B aid to Ukraine, beefs up Biden’s demands

WASHINGTON (AP) – The House of Representatives on Tuesday highlighted approval of a new $40 billion aid package for Ukraine as lawmakers beefed up President Joe Biden’s initial demands in a bipartisan effort to thwart Russian President Vladimir Fraser. Kimer Putin’s promise. three-month-old bloody invasion.

The measure passed by an uneven 368-57 margin, providing $7 billion more than Biden asked for in April and splitting the increase evenly between defense and humanitarian programs. The bill would provide Ukraine with military and economic aid, help regional allies, replenish the Pentagon’s arms shipments overseas, and provide $5 billion to address global food shortages as the war disrupted Ukraine’s often-robust production of many crops.

The measure was supported by every Democrat who voted and nearly three-quarters of Republicans. The House debate reflects a widely shared view on both sides that the United States is more dangerous than pro-Ukraine.

“The people of Ukraine, they need us, and they desperately need our support,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., chair of the House Appropriations Committee. “Vladimir Putin and his cronies must be held accountable.” Do this by protecting democracy, limiting Russian aggression, and strengthening our own national security. “

“As China, Iran and North Korea watch our response, we must show the world that the United States and its allies are steadfast and will do what is necessary to protect our interests abroad,” said Texa, the top Republican on the committee. Senator Kay Granger said.

The new legislation would bring U.S. support for the effort to nearly $54 billion, including the $13.6 billion Congress enacted in March. That’s about $6 billion more than the U.S. spent on all foreign and military aid in 2019, according to a January report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, which studies lawmakers’ issues. It also accounts for about 1% of the entire federal budget.

The measure was issued as Washington becomes increasingly confident About its goals and its willingness to help Ukraine with more advanced weapons. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently said the United States wants a “weakened” Russia that cannot quickly restore its ability to attack other countries.

Russia attacks southern Ukrainian port of Odessa There appears to be an attempt to hinder the delivery of Western weapons. These weapons have helped Ukraine fight its deadlier foe in spectacular fashion, but this bitter war is taking its toll.

Senate approval of Ukraine aid appears a certainty, with members on both sides saying swift action is needed. “As Putin desperately accelerates his campaign of terror and brutality in Ukraine, time is of the essence,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California.

But it’s unclear when the Senate will act, and that could change, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) insisting the measure should focus narrowly on war.

“I think we’re getting there,” McConnell told reporters. “It needs to clear out irrelevant matters directly related to helping Ukraine win the war.”

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

“Honestly, shouldn’t we have a plan?” said Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas. He said he agreed that the West must help Ukraine fight Russia, but added, “Doesn’t the government have to tell us something? Are we going to do that?”

Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, attended separate Democratic and Republican Senate luncheons on Tuesday and thanked them for their support. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said Markalova told them her country had depleted its Soviet-era weapons stockpile and said continued NATO support was critical.

Coons said the Ukrainian’s message was: “Thank you, do more. We have an uphill battle ahead of us. With your support, we can win.”

The new measures include $6 billion to arm and train Ukrainian troops, $8.7 billion to restore U.S. stockpiles of weapons shipped to Ukraine, and $3.9 billion to deploy U.S. troops to the region.

Also provided $8.8 billion in economic support for Ukraine, $4 billion to help Ukraine and allies buy weapons and equipment, and $900 million to provide housing, education, and other assistance for Ukrainian refugees in the U.S.

To increase the measure’s chances in Congress, the House bill ditched Biden’s proposal to ease a path to legal permanent residency for eligible Afghans who fled to the U.S. following the U.S. withdrawal last summer. Some Republicans have expressed concern about the adequacy of applicants’ security checks.

In their biggest concession, Biden and Democrats on Monday dropped plans that included additional billions of dollars to increase the supply of U.S. drugs, vaccines and tests. Coronavirus diseaseGOP support for more pandemic spending is waning, including the money that would slow the passage of Ukraine’s measure in the 50-50 Senate, which requires at least 10 Republican votes to pass.

Democrats want to roll out a separate COVID-19 package soon, although its fate is unclear.

Biden met with Pelosi and six other House Democrats who had recently traveled to Ukraine and Poland in the White House Situation Room on Tuesday. Then, Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colorado, a member of the delegation and a former Army Ranger, said the Ukrainians need advanced drones and long-range weapons, such as artillery, rockets and anti-ship missiles, to help them repel them. Russians.

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Associated Press writer Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.

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