Senate overwhelmingly approves $ 40 billion in military and economic aid Ukraine and its allies on Thursday, when both sides rallied for the last, and possibly not the last, financial volley against the Russian invasion.
The 86-11 vote gave final congressional approval of the package three weeks after President Joe Biden requested a smaller version for $ 33 billion and after a lone Republican opponent postponed Senate adoption for a week. All Democrats and all but 11 Republicans – many of them supporters of former President Donald Trump’s isolationist program – supported the move.
Biden’s quick signature was certain as Russia’s attack, which wounded Ukrainian forces and cities, dragged on for a fourth month with no apparent end. This means more casualties and destruction in Ukraine, which relied heavily on US and Western assistance for its survival, especially advanced weapons, with requests for additional assistance.
“Help is coming, really significant help. Aid that could make sure the Ukrainians win, ”said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., stressing the goal of Ukraine and its allies, which seemed almost unthinkable when Russia launched its brutal attack three months ago.
The vote was a clear exception to the guerrilla units that have hampered work on other issues under Biden and that promise to become only less overwhelming as the November election approaches control of Congress. This includes the fact that Republicans are not allowing Democrats to include billions to fight the relentless pandemic, leaving their efforts to fight COVID-19 in limbo.
Last week, the House of Representatives passed Ukraine’s Bill 368-57, all of which opposed Republicans. Although support in both chambers was unmistakably bipartisan, Republican desertion was noteworthy after Trump, who is still a powerful force in the party, complained that such sums should first be directed at domestic issues .
Sumer called “troubled” that Republicans oppose aid to Ukraine. “More and more MAGA Republicans seem to be following the same soft-spoken textbook on Putin that we’ve seen used by former President Trump,” Schumer said, using the acronym Make America Great Again, which Democrats used to call these Republicans extremists.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky, a strong supporter of the measure, expressed concern to his Republican counterparts. He said Ukraine’s defeat would threaten America’s European trading partners, increase U.S. security spending there and push autocrats in China and elsewhere to seize territory in their regions.
“The most precious and painful thing America could do in the long run is to stop investing in sovereignty, stability and containment until it’s too late,” McConnell said.
On Wednesday, Sumer said he was not sure it would be the last resort to help Ukraine. “They are fighting, they are being killed, they are fighting and suffering. The least we can do is give them the weapons they need, ”he said.
The legislation contains about $ 24 billion for Ukraine’s armaments, equipment and military funding, the resumption of Pentagon weapons stocks sent to the region, and payment for U.S. reinforcements sent there. The rest include economic aid to support the functioning of the Zelensky government, food programs for countries hoping to reduce the harvest in Ukraine, aid to refugees and funds to Kiev to investigate Russian war crimes.
In March, Congress approved an initial measure of $ 13.6 billion. The total cost of nearly $ 54 billion exceeds what the U.S. spent on all its foreign and military aid in 2019, according to Congress’s nonpartisan research service.
Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., Who has long held non-interventionist views, used procedural tactics last week to prevent Sumer and McConnell from moving the measure through the Senate, citing Ukraine’s urgent need for assistance.
In personal criticism, rarely seen in the Senate, Sumer on Wednesday called Paul’s move “disgusting” and said the delay, with the inevitable acceptance, would “strengthen Putin’s hand.” McConnell, who met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last Saturday during an unexpected visit to Kyiv, did not defend his Republican counterpart from Kentucky.
In a brief interview, Paul replied that it would be “disgusting” to downplay the “democratic process” as embodied in the Senate rules he uses.
These spending concerned some Republican-friendly Republicans in Congress on Wednesday.
“This, you know, will be the end of the world if you do nothing here,” said Senator Mike Brown of India, who said he would oppose measures in Ukraine. “I’m more worried because the trust fund will collapse,” which finances Medicare, and another that pays for social security.
Brown said he had long insisted on accounts that pay for themselves. Asked why the $ 40 billion savings in this case outweighed Russia’s termination, he said: “First, it will pass.”
Another Conservative, Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas, said that no matter how expensive the measure, the aid would protect U.S. national security, and said, “If Putin wins, the consequences for America and American taxpayers will be hundreds of billions of dollars.”
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, a moderate who clashed with Trump, said in an interview that helping Ukraine defend itself “is about as smart an investment we could make.” He added, “What does“ America First ”mean? This means that we must first worry about America’s interests. I completely agree. “