Ukraine: US Senate ready to approve US$40 billion in aid


A $40 billion military and economic aid to Ukraine and its allies moved to the top of the Senate on Thursday as both sides rallied after the latest and possible financial assault. not the last of America’s aim to fend off the Russian invasion.

Thursday’s vote will give Congress final approval of the package, three weeks after President Joe Biden requested a $33 billion smaller version. The House of Representatives approved it last week after ramping up defense and humanitarian spending and the Senate’s passage left no doubt, despite a group of America’s first-minded Republicans. expected to vote “no”.

The opponents were all Republicans last week when the House passed measure 368-57. While support in both houses is clearly bipartisan, the GOP defection was notable ahead of the November election to take control of Congress and after former President Donald Trump, remains a force. strong numbers in the party, complained that such funds should first be directed at domestic affairs.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said Republican opposition to Ukraine’s aid was “inevitable”. “More and more people are suggesting that MAGA Republicans are using the same light-hearted play on Putin that we saw that former President Trump used,” Schumer said, using the written word. off Make America Great Again that Democrats used to label those Republicans as extremists.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Addressing the concerns of his GOP colleagues, said Ukraine’s defeat would jeopardize America’s European trading partners, increasing spending American security costs there and encourage autocrats in China and elsewhere to seize territory in their region.

“The most expensive and painful thing the United States can do in the long run is to stop investing in sovereignty, stability, and deterrence before it’s too late,” McConnell said.

Thursday’s vote is expected to largely resemble the 88-11 margin by which the measure resolved a procedural hurdle on Monday, when every “no” vote came from Republicans. .

Biden’s quick signature is certain as the Russian attack, which has hit Ukrainian forces and cities, has moved into a fourth month with no clear end ahead. That means more casualties and destruction in Ukraine, which relies heavily on US and Western support for survival, especially advanced weapons, with demands for aid. More support is likely to appear.

On Wednesday, Schumer said he did not believe this would be the last resort to help Ukraine. “They are fighting, they are the ones being killed, they are the ones struggling and suffering. The least we can do is give them the weapons they need,” he said.

Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., who has long taken a non-interventionist stance, used procedural tactics to thwart Schumer and McConnell, who had scheduled a week for Senate approval. prior to.

In a personal criticism rarely seen on the Senate floor, Schumer on Wednesday called Paul’s move “deplorable” and said the delay, with its passage inevitable, would ” strengthen Putin’s hand.” McConnell, who last Saturday met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a surprise visit to Kyiv, was not vocal in his defense of his Kentucky Republican counterpart.

In a brief interview, Paul replied that it would be “disgusting” to disparage the “democratic process” embodied in the Senate rules he was using.

The act includes about $24 billion in arms, equipment and military funding for Ukraine, restores Pentagon arsenals sent to the region, and pays for U.S. reinforcements sent there. . The rest includes economic aid to keep Zelenskyy’s government running, food programs for countries dependent on Ukraine’s dwindling crop production, refugee assistance and funds for Kyiv to Russian war crimes investigation.

That spending worries some pro-Trump Republicans in Congress.

“You know, the world will end if you don’t do anything here,” said Senator Mike Braun, R-Ind., who said he would oppose the Ukraine measure. “I’m more worried about the trust going to break” that funds Medicare and another that pays Social Security.

Braun said he has long pushed the bills to pay for himself. When asked why the $40 billion savings in this case outweighed the containment of Russia, he said: “First, it will pass.”

Another conservative, Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, argued that as costly as the measure was, the aid would protect US national security and said, “If Putin wins, the consequences are for the US and American taxpayers will be hundreds of billions of dollars.”

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, a moderate who has been at odds with Trump, said in an interview that helping Ukraine defend itself “is the smartest possible investment we can make. presently”. He added, “What does America First mean? It means we should first care about America’s interests. I totally agree.”

Congress passed an initial $13.6 billion measure in March. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, the combined price tag of nearly $54 billion exceeds what the US spent on all foreign and military aid in 2019.

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