Biden signs Ukraine bill and asks for $40 billion in aid, in Putin’s retort

WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington has sought to present a united front against the Russian invasion of Ukraine On Monday, as President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan measure to revive the World War II “Lend-Lease” program that helped defeat Nazi Germany to bolster kyiv and its Eastern European allies. ‘East.

The signing comes as the US Congress is set to release billions more to wage war against Russia – with Democrats preparing $40 billion in military and humanitarian aid, more than the $33 billion package that Biden asked.

All of this serves as a retort to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who seized on Victory in Europe Day – the anniversary of Germany’s unconditional surrender in 1945 and Russia’s greatest patriotic holiday – to rally his people behind the ‘invasion.

“This assistance has been critical to Ukraine’s success on the battlefield,” Biden said in a statement.

Biden said there was an urgent need for Congress to approve the next assistance package for Ukraine to avoid any disruption in the shipment of military supplies to help fight the war, with a crucial deadline coming in 10 days.

“We cannot allow our aid shipments to stop while we wait for further action from Congress,” he said. He urged Congress to act — and “do it quickly.”

In a letter delivered Monday to Capitol Hill, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Congress to act before May 19, when existing levy funds run out. The Pentagon has already sent or committed all but $100 million of the $3.5 billion worth of arms and equipment it can send to Ukraine from its existing stockpiles. And that final $100 million should be used no later than May 19, they said.

“In short, we need your help,” they said in the letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press. “The ability to draw on existing DoD stockpiles has been a critical tool in our efforts to support the Ukrainians in their fight against Russian aggression, allowing us to rapidly procure equipment and ensure a steady flow of assistance. safety to Ukraine.”

The determination of Biden and Congress to maintain support for Ukraine has been enduring, but also surprising. Yet as the months-long war with Russia continues, Ukraine’s bipartisan display will be tested as the United States and its allies move closer to conflict.

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The House could vote as soon as this week on the enhanced Ukraine aid package, sending the bill to the Senate, which is working to confirm Biden’s nominee Bridget Brink as the new Ukrainian ambassador. Tuesday’s House calendar mentioned Ukrainian legislation, but it was unclear how firm that was.

With the president’s party holding only the slimmest majorities in the House and Senate, Republican cooperation is preferred, even vital in some cases, to push through the president’s strategy toward the region.

“I think we can do it as quickly as possible,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said over the weekend of an emerging aid package. “We have a great bipartisanship in terms of supporting the struggle for democracy that the Ukrainian people are waging.”

Despite their differences over Biden’s approach to foreign policy and perceived missteps in the confrontation with Russia, when it comes to Ukraine, members of the House and Senate have united in support of the strategy of the President.

The lend-lease invoice that Biden signed into law on Monday revives the strategy to send military equipment to Ukraine more quickly. Launched during World War II, Lend-Lease signaled that the United States would become what Franklin D. Roosevelt called “the arsenal of democracy” helping Britain and the allies fight Nazi Germany.

Before signing the bill, Biden said “Putin’s war” is “once again bringing about the wanton destruction of Europe,” referring to the significance of the day.

Flanked by two Democratic lawmakers and a Republican, Biden signed the bill, which enjoyed broad bipartisan support. It swept through the Senate last month with unanimous agreement, without even needing a formal roll-call vote. It passed the House overwhelmingly, drawing opposition from just 10 Republicans.

“It’s really important,” Biden said of bipartisan support for Ukraine. “It matters.”

One of the bill’s main Republican sponsors, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, said in a statement that the measure would give Ukraine “the edge over Russia, and I’m glad America can act.” as the arsenal of democracy for this essential partner”.

Other measures, including efforts to cut Russian oil imports to the United States and calls to investigate Putin for war crimes, have also won broad support, although some lawmakers have pushed Biden to do even more. .

“As President Putin and the Russian people celebrated Victory Day today, we see Russian forces committing war crimes and atrocities in Ukraine as they engage in a brutal war that is causing so much unnecessary suffering and destruction,” the White House press secretary said. Jen Psaki. She said Putin was “perverting” history in an attempt to “justify his unprovoked and unjustified war”.

Biden acknowledged that his request for additional military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine should be separate from the money he also requested from Congress to deal with the COVID-19 crisis in his country.

Decoupling the two funding requests would be a setback to the president’s push for more COVID-19 spending, but a nod to congressional political reality.

Republicans in Congress are resisting spending more money at home as the pandemic crisis moves into a new phase, and Biden didn’t want to delay money for Ukraine by trying to debate the issue further.

Biden said congressional leaders from both parties told him that keeping the two spending programs linked would slow action.

“We cannot afford to delay this vital war effort,” Biden said in the statement. “Therefore, I am ready to accept that these two measures evolve separately, so that the draft law on Ukrainian aid can immediately arrive on my desk.”

As the now-strengthened Ukraine package makes its way through the House and Senate, with votes soon possible, lawmakers show no signs of flinching. Countless lawmakers have taken weekend trips to the region to see firsthand the devastation of war on Ukraine and surrounding countries as more than 5 million refugees flee the country.

Rather than fight overseas spending — as had been an increasingly popular view during the Trump era — some lawmakers in both parties want to increase the amount of U.S. aid sent to Israel. Ukraine.


Associated Press writers Alan Fram, Lolita C. Baldor and Will Weissert contributed to this report.

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