According to administration officials, President Biden is asking Congress to authorize more than $30 billion in additional security, economic, and humanitarian aid for Ukraine over the next five months to help the country fend off the Russian attack.
An administration official told reporters on a call previewing the request that the White House needs Congress to approve just over $20 billion in security assistance for Ukraine, including $5 billion in weapons and other military aid, $6 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, and $4 billion for the State Department’s foreign military financing program.
According to the official, Biden is also asking Congress to approve $8.5 billion in additional economic aid for Ukraine, as well as $3 billion in humanitarian aid and food security funding.
In remarks from the White House on Thursday, Biden said, “We need this bill to support Ukraine in this fight for freedom.” “This fight isn’t cheap,” says the narrator. However, if we allow aggression to win, we will pay a higher price.”
The massive $33 billion requests are what the Biden administration claims is required to assist Ukraine’s military in defeating a sustained Russian attack in the coming months and dealing with the war’s global consequences. Officials expect the funding to last until the end of the current fiscal year in September.
“We believe the president’s funding request is what is required to enable Ukraine’s success over the next five months of this war,” a second administration official said, adding that the conflict “could well last months or longer.”
The administration is also seeking $500 million to address domestic and international economic stresses brought on by the war, which will be used to help the US increase the production of wheat and other food crops that are in short supply.
Additionally, the funding will assist officials in utilizing the Defense Production Act, a Cold War-era law, to increase domestic production of critical minerals affected by the war.
In March, Congress passed bipartisan legislation authorizing an additional $13.6 billion in Ukraine-related aid, including $3.5 billion in military equipment that the White House claims has nearly been depleted as the US seeks to assist Ukraine in combating a Russian onslaught that has now entered its third month.
Last week, Biden announced the final $800 million in military aid, which included heavy artillery, dozens of howitzers, and 144,000 rounds of ammunition.
While Biden has ruled out sending American troops to Ukraine to fight Russians, administration officials believe US and allied assistance was critical in helping Ukraine defeat Russian forces who attempted to overthrow the capital, Kyiv.
“Despite the fact that we don’t have boots on the ground, our support has made a significant difference on the battlefield,” said the second administration official.
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More help to Ukraine is expected to receive bipartisan support in Congress, but the path to approval could be tricky as the Biden administration tries to persuade lawmakers to authorize additional cash for the COVID-19 pandemic response.
A previous attempt to authorize more pandemic preparedness financing was plagued by partisan differences, and the funding was eventually removed from a huge package passed in March.
Biden would also press for passage of the coronavirus funds, according to a third administration official, who said the administration believes it “absolutely makes sense” for the COVID-19 and Ukraine cash to “go together” in legislation.
The person stated, “We’re not going to go too far ahead of the legislative process.”
Biden then restated his plea for $22 billion to combat the pandemic during his remarks.
He said, “Let’s get both of these vital demands done.”
In answer to a query from a reporter, Biden said he didn’t mind if Congress moved the money requests together or separately, but added, “We need them both.”
“It doesn’t matter to me how they do it.” He said, “I’m sending them both up.”
In addition to the funding request, Biden is urging Congress to adopt new legislation tightening penalties against Russian oligarchs, allowing the administration to utilize confiscated funds to help Ukraine.