(Bloomberg) -- The Senate passed a more than $40 billion Ukraine aid package on a bipartisan 86 to 11 vote, sending the bill to President Joe Biden for his signature.
The legislation is significantly larger than the $33 billion aid package Biden requested last month but received overwhelming support.
“The message this sends is that the United States is committed, that we are going to stand with any country that is a democracy when there is an autocracy that attempts to overrun it,” Idaho Republican Jim Risch said. “Ronald Reagan spent eight years bringing down the Soviet Union and freeing the countries in its orbit. We are not going to abandon the effort he made. We are all in.”
In a sign of how popular support for Ukraine’s struggle against Russia’s invasion remains, the bill passed the House last week on a 368 to 57 vote.
The only “no” votes in both chambers have come from Republicans who said they are concerned about sending money abroad that will add to the deficit and demanding a clearer strategy to counter the Russian invasion from the Biden administration.
Final Senate passage of the bill came after a week of delays caused Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, who wanted to insert language to give the Afghanistan reconstruction special inspector general oversight powers over Ukraine assistance. Opponents of the change said it was unnecessary and would force the House to re-vote on the measure.
Paul voted against the bill noting that it is paid for with deficit spending.
“If Congress really believed giving Ukraine $40B was in our national interest, they could easily pay for it by taxing every income taxpayer $500. My guess is they choose to borrow the $ bc Americans might just decide they need the $500 more to pay for gas,” Paul tweeted Thursday.
Democrats said the delay, which pushed enactment of the bill to the very same week that Pentagon authority to ship weapons to Ukraine runs out, helped Russia.
“This should have already been over and done with, but it is repugnant that one member of the other side — the junior senator from Kentucky — chose to make a show and obstruct Ukraine funding knowing full well he couldn’t actually stop its passage. For Senator Paul to delay Ukraine funding for purely political motives is to only strengthen Putin’s hand,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor this week.
The bill includes $19.7 billion for the Defense Department, more than $3 billion more than the administration requested. This includes the $6 billion in direct security assistance to Ukraine that Biden sought last month and $9.05 billion to replenish weapons stocks sent from the Pentagon to Ukraine. The package would provide $4 billion in foreign military financing for Ukraine and other countries affected by the invasion to help them purchase weapons.
The bill also includes $8.8 billion in direct economic support for Ukraine along with funds to repair the US Embassy in Kyiv, document war crimes and protect against nuclear fuel leaks.
In addition, the measure would provide $4.35 billion for global food and humanitarian aid to be administered by the US Agency for International Development and another $700 million in global food funding at the State Department. The inclusion of the funds was made despite some concerns from Republicans that the global food crisis should not be addressed in the bill.
Democrats were able to build Republican support for the bill by eliminating a provision that would have granted a path to permanent residency for Afghan refugees and by deciding to decouple Ukraine from a stalled Covid spending package. Biden made the call to jettison $10 billion in coronavirus aid from the legislation because of a standoff over immigration.
Paul was joined in opposing the bill over deficit concerns by small but growing number Republican senators. 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, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama all came out against the legislation.
“The size of this bill is the size of my state’s annual budget when a much more obvious answer is we should stop the war on American energy right now, lower global energy prices and defund Putin’s war on Ukraine in that manner,” Hagerty said in an interview “This is a lot of money and it’s unpaid for.”
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