Senate votes on $40 billion support package deal for Ukraine

The legislation provides money for military and humanitarian assistance, including funds to support Ukraine’s military and national security forces, to help replenish stockpiles of US equipment sent to Ukraine, and to provide public health and medical support to Ukrainian refugees.

Aid to Ukraine was a rare area of ​​bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill, with many Democrats and Republicans rallying around calls to help the embattled nation.

However, not all lawmakers agree with the push to send an additional $40 billion in aid to Ukraine. Some Republican senators have criticized the high price of the legislation and the fact that costs are not being offset, and raised concerns that European countries are not contributing enough funds.

Eleven Republican senators voted against finalizing the bill: Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, John Boozman of Arkansas, Mike Braun of Indiana, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Mike Lee of Utah, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming , Roger Marshall of Kansas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.

Ahead of the vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rebuked lawmakers who were “concerned about the cost” of aid to Ukraine, making it clear that he thought it was a big mistake versus a big one vote law.

“Anyone worried about the cost of supporting a Ukrainian victory should consider the much higher cost should Ukraine lose,” he said in a Senate remark.

What’s on the bill

The bill would increase funding for the President’s Withdrawal Authority to $11 billion from the $5 billion originally requested by the Biden administration. Funding from the Presidential Agency allows the government to ship US-held military equipment and weapons.

The bill also earmarks $6 billion in funding for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, another way the Biden administration has provided military assistance to Ukraine. The funding allows the government to purchase arms from contractors and then ship those arms to Ukraine, and therefore does not draw directly on US stocks.

The funds will be used to support Ukraine’s military and national security forces, and will be used for weapons, equipment, training, logistics and intelligence support, among other needs, according to a House Democrats leaflet.

Some $9 billion will also be made available to help replenish U.S. equipment that has been sent to Ukraine, as many lawmakers have expressed concerns about replacing U.S. stockpiles of weapons that the U.S give to Ukraine, in particular spikes and Javelin missiles.

The bill earmarks $3.9 billion for European Command operations, which include “mission support, intelligence support, hardship payments for troops and equipment stationed in the region, including a Patriot battery,” according to a House Democrat fact sheet. The Department of Defense has deployed additional U.S. troops to eastern European countries since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to bolster support for NATO allies near Ukraine.

To meet humanitarian needs, the bill earmarks $900 million to bolster refugee assistance, including shelter, trauma support and English classes for Ukrainians fleeing the country.

The measure provides an additional $54 million to be used for public health and medical care for Ukrainian refugees.

Biden administration announces $100 million security package as Biden prepares to sign aid bill

The Biden administration on Thursday announced another $100 million security package for Ukraine as Biden signs new legislation authorizing billions more in aid.

In a statement, Biden said the additional security support will “provide Ukraine with additional artillery, radar and other equipment that they are already using so effectively on the battlefield.”

“These weapons and equipment will go directly to the frontlines of freedom in Ukraine and reaffirm our strong support for the courageous people of Ukraine who are defending their country against continued Russian aggression,” Biden said.

The Biden administration has made it a top priority to get shipments to Ukraine as quickly as possible, cutting the approval and delivery process from weeks to days. But officials had warned that money from the latest additional funding package was running out and that Congress needed to act quickly to keep critical arms shipments going.

The announcement of the latest safety package comes as Biden enacts the new $40 billion relief bill.

Aid to Ukraine delayed in Senate

Bipartisan Senate leaders had hoped to approve the emergency funding bill last week to quickly send billions in military aid to Ukraine as the war nears its third month.

But Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, blocked passage of the aid package until Thursday, the day the Biden administration said additional funds must be approved to avoid a failure in support for Ukraine.

Paul has called for language to be added to the bill giving new powers to a special inspector general to oversee how aid to Ukraine is spent. And while members of both parties broadly agree with this view, forcing an amendment to the bill at such a late stage is time-consuming and would delay the delivery of the country’s needed emergency relief.

Under Senate rules, any individual senator can slow down the process. It took about a week to resolve Paul’s objection through timely procedural steps that the Senate Majority Leader had to take.

“I think we should have an inspector general,” Paul told CNN earlier this week. “We have one out there monitoring Afghan waste. He was very good at it. You don’t have to wait for an appointment. He has a team running. And I think we should do that.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed Paul for delaying emergency funding, arguing it was for “purely political motives” and only strengthened “Putin’s hand.”

Before the vote, Schumer said he expects the Senate to “complete the critical task of approving another round of military, humanitarian and economic assistance to the people of Ukraine” on Thursday.

He continued, “This should have been done long ago, but it’s disgusting that a member of the other side, the junior senator from Kentucky, decided to put on a show and block Ukraine’s funding when he knew full well that he couldn’t actually stop his passage.”

Paul, in a speech before objecting to the bill’s passage last week, said that his “oath of office is to the US Constitution, not to a foreign nation” and “we cannot save Ukraine by turning the US economy into… doomed to fail”.

This story and headline have been updated to reflect additional developments on Thursday.

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Oren Liebermann, Ted Barrett, and Manu Raju contributed to this report.

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