Washington: The US House of Representatives approved a package of 40 billion dollars in aid for Ukraine on Tuesday, as Congress races to keep the military aid flowing and boost the government in Kyiv as it grapples with the Russian invasion.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives voted 368-57, with every ‘no’ vote coming from Republicans. Before it can go to President Joe Biden to be signed into law, the bill now heads to the Senate, which is expected to act quickly.
Earlier, President Joe Biden had asked US Congress to approve an additional $33 billion in aid for Ukraine, but lawmakers decided to increase the military and humanitarian funding.
Biden had also called on Congress to move quickly so he could sign the bill into law before existing defence aid for Ukraine runs out later in May.
Some Republicans opposed the bill, criticizing Democrats for moving too quickly to send too many US taxpayer dollars abroad.
Biden’s fellow Democrats narrowly control Congress, but the bill will need Republican votes to get through the Senate.
The 40 billion dollars package includes $6 billion for security assistance, including training, equipment, weapons and support; $8.7 billion to replenish stocks of US equipment sent to Ukraine and $3.9 billion for European Command operations.
In addition, the legislation authorizes a further $11 billion in the Presidential Drawdown Authority, which allows the president to authorize the transfer of articles and services from US stocks without congressional approval in response to an emergency. Biden had asked for $5 billion.
It also authorizes $4 billion in Foreign Military Financing to provide support for Ukraine and other countries affected by the crisis.
The new aid package also includes humanitarian assistance – $5 billion to address food insecurity globally due to the conflict and nearly $9 billion for an economic support fund for Ukraine.
It provides hundreds of millions of dollars to help refugees and fund efforts to seize the assets of oligarchs linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose government has called the invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation.”