WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday asked Congress to pass a proposed $33 billion Ukraine aid package, including more than $20 billion in military aid and other security assistance.
The supplemental funding request includes $16.4 billion for the Defense Department, $8.5 billion in economic assistance, and $3 billion for humanitarian assistance and to fight food insecurity.
“Additional security assistance will put urgently needed equipment into the hands of Ukraine’s military and police, including ammunition, armored vehicles, small arms, demining assistance and unmanned aircraft systems,” Biden wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
The new package includes $6 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and $5.4 billion to replenish U.S. stockpiles after American materiel was transferred to Ukraine under a presidential drawdown authority. Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
An official from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget told Defense News earlier this week that Biden has approximately $250 million in spending authority left out of the $3.5 billion that Congress authorized for the president to use in transferring military equipment to Ukraine from U.S. stockpiles.
The supplemental request also asks Congress for $2.6 billion to support the deployment of U.S. troops in Europe, including costs related to transportation, temporary duty, special pay, airlift, weapons system sustainment and medical support.
The Biden administration also wants $550 million to establish a critical munitions acquisition fund to help procure and expedite the availability of what OMB called “high-demand munitions” for the U.S. and its coalition partners.
Additionally, the Biden administration is seeking $4 billion in Foreign Military Financing for Ukraine, a State Department program that would grant Kyiv the ability to purchase American defense articles from the United States.
An OMB official told reporters on a call that the administration is asking Congress for funds that would allow the president to use the Defense Production Act to “expand domestic production of critical reserves of critical minerals and materials that have been disrupted by [President Vladimir Putin’s] war and are necessary to make everything from defense systems to cars.”
Some Senate Democrats have floated using the Defense Production Act to expedite the replenishment of munitions that the United States has sent to Ukraine, such as surface-to-air Stinger missiles.
Raytheon Technologies has said it may be unable to make more of the shoulder-fired Stinger missiles until at least 2023 due to parts and material shortages.
Biden also reiterated his request that Congress pass a COVID-19 funding package. While Senate Democrats have floated the idea of pairing the Ukraine supplemental with pandemic aid, doing so could delay the passage of additional funds for Kyiv, as Republicans have refused to advance COVID-19 aid absent an immigration-related vote.
Still, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., indicated Wednesday he could be open to passing the Ukraine supplemental as a stand-alone bill.
“If we find we don’t have agreement, we want to get the Ukrainian assistance ASAP,” Hoyer told reporters on a press call.
Bryant Harris is the Congress reporter for Defense News. He has covered U.S. foreign policy, national security, international affairs and politics in Washington since 2014. He has also written for Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera English and IPS News.