The Senate on Thursday gave final approval to a $40 billion emergency military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine, as the United States ramps up support for an increasingly expensive and protracted fight against a Russian invasion.
The measure will bring total US investment in the war to about $54 billion in just over two months. The Senate passed it overwhelmingly by a vote of 86 to 11, in the latest reflection of the remarkable bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for a massive investment in Ukraine’s war effort, which propelled the spending package through the House last week.
President Biden was expected to sign it soon. His government and Ukrainian leaders had pushed for a swift enactment, warning that they would be out of aid on Thursday if Congress failed to act.
The move’s relatively smooth path through Congress has shown how the scorching images of suffering in Ukraine, coupled with fears of Russian aggression spreading beyond its borders, have – at least for now – challenge the resistance of both sides to US involvement. in war abroad.
“By passing on this emergency aid, the Senate can now say to the Ukrainian people, ‘Help is on the way — real help, significant aid,'” said New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader. “We Americans – all of us, Democrat and Republican – cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand as Vladimir Putin continues his vicious fight against the Ukrainian people.”
Of the few Republicans who opposed the bill, several cited concerns about sending billions of dollars overseas for a conflict whose end point is unknown at a time when the United States is grappling with economic challenges, including inflation.
Leaders of both parties tried to ensure that skepticism about the package’s scope would not derail its passage. Kentucky Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell led a delegation of senators in his party on a surprise visit to Ukraine last weekend and pledged bipartisan support for the country’s fight against Russia.
“Help to Ukraine goes far beyond charity; the future of America’s security and core strategic interests will be shaped by the outcome of this battle,” McConnell said on Thursday. “Anyone who is concerned about the cost of supporting a Ukrainian victory should consider the much higher cost if Ukraine were to lose.”
The legislation is significantly bigger than Mr Biden’s $33 billion request, which just weeks after Congress approved a $13.6 billion aid package for Ukraine, was split roughly equally between military and humanitarian aid. The bill passed Thursday has a similar split.
It would allow Mr. Biden to authorize the rapid transfer of up to $11 billion in U.S. weapons, equipment and defense supplies to Ukraine, and allocate about $9 billion to replenish that stock.
The transfers so far have included relatively expensive weapons such as the 5,500 Javelin anti-tank guided missiles and 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles given to Kiev, as well as cheaper ammunition such as the 184,000 155-millimeter shells delivered to Ukraine for a prolonged artillery battle in Donbas.
The package also includes $8.8 billion for a special fund designed to help the Ukrainian government continue to function, and $4.4 billion for international disaster relief, as part of an effort to reduce disruption of the global food chain. the consequences of the war. Another $900 million would go into aid for Ukrainian refugees, including the provision of trauma and support services, English language training and housing.
John Ismay reporting contributed.