Quick Senate OK ahead for House-passed $40B aid for Ukraine

May 11, 2022, 9:46 AM | Updated: 9:54 pm
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters ahead of a procedural vote on We...

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters ahead of a procedural vote on Wednesday to essentially codify Roe v. Wade, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Final congressional approval of a $40 billion Ukraine aid bill seems certain within days as top Senate Republicans said Wednesday they expect strong GOP backing for the House-passed measure, signaling a bipartisan, heightened U.S. commitment to helping thwart the bloody Russian invasion.

“I think there’ll be substantial support,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told The Associated Press about the legislation, which cleared the House late Tuesday by an emphatic 368-57 margin. “We’re going to try to process it as soon as possible.”

No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Thune of South Dakota predicted “a big vote over here” for the bill, which he and others suggested might come Thursday but could spill into next week. Thune said some Republicans would vote against it and procedural tactics by opponents to slow it were possible, but added, “I think because there’s so much forward momentum behind doing this and doing it in a timely way that it I don’t think we’ll have anybody who will hold it up.”

It’s taken just two weeks for lawmakers to receive President Joe Biden’s smaller, $33 billion package, enlarge it and move it to the brink of passage — lightning speed for Congress. That reflects a bipartisan consensus that Ukraine’s outnumbered forces need additional Western help as soon as possible, with added political pressure fueled by near-daily tales of atrocities against civilians inflicted by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s armies.

“Act quickly we must,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “I will make sure this is a priority for the Senate. We have a moral obligation to stand with our friends in Ukraine.”

The new legislation would bring American 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 its foreign and military aid in 2019, according to a January report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, which studies issues for lawmakers.

Washington has become increasingly assertive about its goals and its willingness to help Ukraine with more sophisticated weapons. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said recently the U.S. wants a “weakened” Russia that can’t quickly restore its capability to attack other countries, and reports have emerged about U.S. intelligence helping Ukrainians kill Russian generals and sink the Russian missile cruiser Moskva.

A senior Russian official said in Moscow Wednesday that the assistance package was part of Washington’s proxy war against Russia. Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council and former president, said on a messaging app that the aid was driven by a desire to “inflict a heavy defeat on our country, restrict its economic development and political influence in the world.”

The measure sailed to House passage backed by every voting Democrat, while around 1-in-4 Republicans opposed it. It would provide $7 billion more than Biden’s request from April, dividing the increase evenly between defense and humanitarian programs.

The bill would give Ukraine military and economic assistance, help regional allies, replenish weapons the Pentagon has shipped overseas and provide $5 billion to address global food shortages caused by the war’s crippling of Ukraine’s normally robust production of many crops.

Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S., attended Tuesday’s separate Democratic and Republican Senate lunches and expressed gratitude for the support they’ve received. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said Markarova told them her country has depleted its stockpiles of Soviet-era weapons and said continued NATO support is vital.

Coons said the Ukrainian’s message was: “Thank you, do more. We have a hard fight ahead. With your support, we can win.”

The new measure includes $6 billion to arm and train Ukrainian forces, $8.7 billion to restore American stores of weapons shipped to Ukraine and $3.9 billion for U.S. forces deployed to the area.

There’s also $8.8 billion in economic support for Ukraine, $4 billion to help Ukraine and allies finance arms and equipment purchases and $900 million for housing, education and other help for Ukrainian refugees in the U.S.

The House bill dropped Biden’s proposal to ease the pathway to legal permanent residency for qualifying Afghans who fled to the U.S. after last summer’s American withdrawal from that country. Some Republicans have expressed concerns about the adequacy of security screenings for applicants.

Also eliminated from Biden’s request was $500 million to pay U.S. farmers to grow more crops to compensate for Ukraine’s curtailed food production; language helping Russian scientists emigrate to the U.S.; and a provision letting the Justice Department transfer money to Ukraine that it’s acquired by seizing Russian oligarch’s assets.

In their biggest concession, Biden and Democrats abandoned plans Monday to include additional billions of dollars to build up U.S. supplies of medicines, vaccines and tests for COVID-19. Republican support for more pandemic spending is waning and including that money would have slowed the Ukraine measure in the 50-50 Senate, where at least 10 GOP votes will be needed for passage.

Democrats hope to produce a separate COVID-19 package soon, though its fate is unclear.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

(Facebook Photo/Superior Court of Arizona in Yavapai County)...
Associated Press

Arizona judge has cases reassigned following DUI arrest

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that all cases currently assigned to a Yavapai County Superior Court judge recently arrested on suspicion of extreme DUI will be reassigned to other judges.
3 days ago
Haitian migrant Gerson Solay, 28, carries his daughter, Bianca, as he and his family cross into Can...
Associated Press

US, Canada to end loophole that allows asylum-seekers to move between countries

President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced a plan to close a loophole to an immigration agreement.
6 days ago
Expert skateboarder Di'Orr Greenwood, an artist born and raised in the Navajo Nation in Arizona and...
Associated Press

Indigenous skateboard art featured on new stamps unveiled at Phoenix skate park

The Postal Service unveiled the “Art of the Skateboard" stamps at a Phoenix skate park, featuring designs from Indigenous artists.
6 days ago
(Facebook Photo/City of San Luis, Arizona)...
Associated Press

San Luis authorities receive complaints about 911 calls going across border

Authorities in San Luis say they are receiving more complaints about 911 calls mistakenly going across the border.
12 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Daylight saving time begins in most of US this weekend

No time change is observed in Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.
20 days ago
Mexican army soldiers prepare a search mission for four U.S. citizens kidnapped by gunmen in Matamo...
Associated Press

How the 4 abducted Americans in Mexico were located

The anonymous tip that led Mexican authorities to a remote shack where four abducted Americans were held described armed men and blindfolds.
20 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...
Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.
(Photo by Michael Matthey/picture alliance via Getty Images)...
Cox Communications

Valley Boys & Girls Club uses esports to help kids make healthy choices

KTAR’s Community Spotlight focuses on the Boys & Girls Club of the Valley and the work to incorporate esports into children's lives.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Quick Senate OK ahead for House-passed $40B aid for Ukraine