Biden goes all-in with call for more Ukraine money

by Trinity Cardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


Not even the nation’s COVID response outranks Ukraine in importance, at least not according to a statement given by President Joe Biden Monday.

The president, who had gone to Congress previously asking for a single bill that would both boost Ukraine’s war effort against Russia and further fund the United States COVID response, said he was willing to sacrifice the pandemic spending if it meant speeding money to Ukraine.

According to a Reuters report, Biden’s tactic has paid off and then some. Congress is poised to give Biden $6.8 billion more than the $33 billion he requested late last month.

“Ten days ago, I sent to Congress an urgent proposal to provide needed military, economic, and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, “ Biden said in a statement. “The plan was substantial in size, because the need is substantial:  we must stand by Ukraine as it defends itself from Russian aggression.”

Bided added that he desired his Democratic colleagues to decouple the COVID spending from Ukrainian aid.

“Previously, I had recommended that Congress take overdue action on much needed funding for COVID treatments, vaccines and tests, as part of the Ukraine Supplemental bill,” Biden said. “However, I have been informed by Congressional leaders in both parties that such an addition would slow down action on the urgently needed Ukrainian aid – a view expressed strongly by several Congressional Republicans.  We cannot afford delay in this vital war effort.  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.”

Unlike so many other matters, there seems to be no real hesitation on the part of Republicans or Democrats when it comes to Ukraine.

The House could pass the bill as early as today, and the Senate is expected to rush the passage as well, a proposition that is less daunting when Republicans and Democrats have broad agreement.

“Good — Ukraine aid shouldn’t get bogged down in partisan politics,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said in a statement. “Aid for [Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy] was less than one percent of the last mega-spending deal that Washington logrolled. This is really simple: If we want Ukraine to win, we need to continue to arm them to the teeth. A clean Ukraine bill will have the votes. Let’s get this done.”

A financial package of $39.8 billion would piggyback on the 2022 Lend-Lease Act, the Biden administration’s recreation of a foreign policy from the World War II era that became law on Monday.

Under the Lend-Lease Act, Congress has authorized Biden to, as the name suggests, lend or lease military equipment to Ukraine or another Eastern European nation were Russia to expand its war effort.

“I’m signing a bill that provides another important tool in our efforts to support the government of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in their fight to defend their country and their democracy against Putin’s brutal war,” Biden said during a signing ceremony in the Oval Office. “And it is brutal.”

Similar to the pending aid package, the Lend-Lease Act enjoyed broad, bicameral support.

After Biden signed the bill into law, the quartet of Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) released a joint press release celebrating the event.

“Ukraine is becoming the frontline between freedom and tyranny,” Wicker said. “It will need our help for the long haul. I am glad to see that members of both parties were able to come together to enhance efficiency and flexibility in delivering aid to Ukraine. Now we need to take the next step and get Ukraine the weapons they need without delay.”