WASHINGTON — The House on Tuesday passed a $40 billion military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine 368-57 — opting to provide Kyiv with $7 billion more than President Joe Biden initially sought in his supplemental request last month.
The bill now awaits a vote in the Senate, where it is widely expected to pass with robust bipartisan support.
The bulk of the funding is meant to bolster Ukraine’s efforts to fend off Russia’s invasion, with $34.7 billion devoted to military aid — the largest tranche yet from Congress.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has cost thousands of innocent lives, devastated cities across the region, and fueled a humanitarian crisis, rising costs and food insecurity around the world,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said in a statement. “In March, Congress came together quickly to support the people of Ukraine and protect global democracy.”
In March, Congress appropriated $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine as part of the government funding bill it passed, a small fraction of the package now before the House.
“With Russia’s continued assault, we must act with the same urgency to provide this additional emergency funding,” said DeLauro. “We have a moral responsibility to deliver this support to help end the grievous loss of life, hold Putin and his cronies accountable, and protect global democracy.”
Democrats initially considered a proposal to bundle it with COVID aid, which Republicans have held up over a separate immigration-related vote. However, the decision to pass it as a stand-alone bill avoids that fight and ensures it will arrive at Biden’s desk relatively soon.
The new package contains $11 billion in funding to allow Biden to continue transferring U.S. military equipment to Ukraine through presidential drawdown authority — his preferred means of quickly providing assistance to the Ukrainian military. Biden only has $100 million left of the $3.5 billion Congress has appropriated for transferring military equipment such as Javelin anti-tank and Stinger anti-air missiles under presidential drawdown authority.
The supplemental also includes $8.7 billion to backfill stocks that have already been sent to Ukraine under drawdown authority. The cumulative $19.7 billion in drawdown funding represents a considerable increase over the $10.4 billion in total drawdown authority the White House requested in its initial supplemental.
“In the bipartisan and bicameral negotiations in assembling this package, there was an interest among members in adding additional funding for military and humanitarian assistance,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote in a letter to the Democratic caucus. “The final bill will be consistent with the President’s request, except for additional funding for military and humanitarian aid.”
The Defense Department’s Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative is also set to get a $6 billion boost to provide equipment, supplies and logistical support to the Ukrainian military after Biden quickly burned through the $300 million Congress provided for the fund in March.
Another $3.9 billion will fund U.S. forces stationed in Europe, including the deployment of a Patriot missile battery. The Biden administration has vowed to shore up the troop presence on NATO’s eastern flank following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“With this aid, the United States is sending a powerful message to the oligarchs in the Kremlin: We remain firm in our belief that Ukrainian freedom will triumph over Russian fascism,” Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J., the chairman of the Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee, said in a statement.
Additionally, the bill will set aside $500 million to replenish the U.S. critical munitions stockpile. The Biden administration has transferred at least 5,500 Javelins and 1,400 Stingers to Ukraine so far — comprising a respective one-third and one-fourth of U.S. stockpiles for each system.
Ukraine and NATO’s eastern flank countries would also have access to a combined total $4 billion in Foreign Military Financing — grants that help countries to purchase equipment from U.S. defense manufacturers.
At the Biden administration’s request, Congress is also allocating $600 million to expedite missile production and expand domestic access to critical minerals via the Defense Production Act. Biden intends to use that Korean War-era law, which allows the federal government to direct private companies to prioritize supplying customers critical to U.S. national security, to mitigate some of the supply chain issues that have plagued the defense industrial base.
The package also includes $100 million in demining funds the Ukrainians have requested.
Finally, the bill requires the inspectors general for the Pentagon and State Department to oversee the Ukraine aid funds.
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.