Biden calls on Congress to ‘immediately’ pass Ukraine aid bill, says COVID funding will ‘move separately’
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President Biden on Monday urged Congress to “immediately” pass the “urgent” $33 billion proposal to provide military, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, while saying he is “prepared to accept” that measure and a COVID-19 funding package will “move separately” so that the Ukrainian aid bill can get to his desk “right away.”
Biden, last month, requested $33 billion from Congress for additional security, military and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine and for U.S. efforts to strengthen European security in cooperation with NATO allies and partners.
BIDEN REQUESTS $33B FROM CONGRESS FOR UKRAINE EMERGENCY SUPPLEMENTAL FUNDING
“The plan was substantial in size, because the need is substantial: We must stand by Ukraine as it defends itself from Russian aggression,” Biden said in a statement Monday. “The need is also urgent: I have nearly exhausted the resources given to me by a bipartisan majority in Congress to support Ukraine’s fighters.”
The president said the aid “has been critical to Ukraine’s success on the battlefield.”
“We cannot allow our shipments of assistance to stop while we await further Congressional action,” Biden said. “We are approximately ten days from hitting this critical deadline.”
The president said that there “appears to be strong support for the proposal” he submitted last month, and said Congress is “likely to pass it in substantially the form I proposed.”
The president said that he had previously recommended Congress take “overdue action” on “much-needed funding for COVID treatments, vaccines and tests, as part of the Ukraine Supplemental bill.”
Biden, Monday, though, said Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle have communicated to him that “such an addition would slow down action on the urgently needed Ukrainian aid.” Biden said the view was “expressed strongly by several Congressional Republicans.”
“We cannot afford delay in this vital war effort,” Biden said. “Hence, I am prepared to accept that these two measures move separately, so that the Ukrainian aid bill can get to my desk right away.”
Biden added, though, that “as vital as it is to help Ukraine combat Russian aggression, it is equally vital to help Americans combat COVID.”
“Without timely COVID funding, more Americans will die needlessly,” Biden said. “In the fall, if we are hit by new variants, it will be too late to get the tools needed for protection – critical treatments that will be available in Europe, but not the United States.”
He called on Congress to “immediately” pass the Ukrainian Supplemental funding bill, and pressed Congress to “move promptly on the COVID funding bill.”
In addition, Fox News learned that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has insisted on separating the Ukraine aid from COVID and the president indicated to congressional leaders his desire to pass the Ukraine aid first without the COVID funding, given opposition by Senate Republicans.
Democratic appropriators are making a new offer on the Ukraine aid package, with a new overall figure at $39.8 billion, Fox News has learned. Following passage of the Ukraine aid bill, the COVID measure would begin moving its way through the House of Representatives.
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The emergency supplemental funding bill for Ukraine includes $20.4 billion in additional security assistance for Ukraine, including $5 billion in additional drawdown authority, $6 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, and $4 billion for the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing program.
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The administration is also asking for funding to bolster the Justice Department’s “KleptoCapture Task Force” efforts to pursue high value asset seizures from sanctioned individuals related to Russian actions in Ukraine.
The emergency supplemental funding request came after the Biden administration, last month, announced another $800 million in military aid for Ukraine, including heavy artillery and ammunition, as the country continues to fight to defend itself against Russia’s multi-front war. That funding was in addition to an authorization of $800 million in weapons, ammunition and other security assistance earlier this month.
That $1.6 billion the president approved last month for Ukraine came in addition to the more than $1 billion the Biden administration already sent to Ukraine.