WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a $39.8 billion Ukrainian aid package. The measure passed by a margin of 368-57, providing $7 billion more than Biden’s request from April and dividing the increase evenly between defense and humanitarian programs.
The new legislation would bring American support for the effort to nearly $54 billion, including the $13.6 billion in support Congress enacted in March; roughly $6 billion more than the U.S. spent on all its foreign and military aid in 2019, according to a January report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. It’s also around 1% of the entire federal budget.
To enhance the measure’s chances in Congress, the House bill dropped Biden’s proposal to ease the pathway to legal permanent residency for qualifying Afghans who fled to the U.S. after last summer’s American withdrawal from that country.
Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) voted against the spending package and made the following statement:
“The United States has generously provided significant humanitarian aid and military supplies totaling over $14 billion—far more than any other country. With this bill, the U.S. would be spending five times more than the rest of the world combined to assist Ukraine. While I support the people of Ukraine and their right to self-defense and self-determination, this is not our war to fight.
“Americans are already burdened by Biden’s failed domestic policies and reckless spending; taxpayers should not be expected to shoulder the cost of this war alone. This unjust war is no excuse to abandon our Congressional responsibility to the American people. We should be proud of the support we have given to Ukraine, while calling on the world to do more.”
Senate approval of Ukrainian aid seems certain, and members of both parties have echoed the need for quick action. “As Putin desperately accelerates his campaign of horror and brutality in Ukraine, time is of the essence,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
But it was unclear when the Senate would act, and changes there were possible.“Honestly, do we not deserve a plan?” said Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas. He said he agrees that Western countries must help Ukraine stand up to Russia but added, “Does the administration not need to come to us with where we are going with this?”
Concerns of a potential quagmire in the region are valid, as Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba voiced what appeared to be increasing confidence, and expanded goals, to the Financial Times, that Ukraine could go beyond just forcing Russia back to areas it held before the invasion began.
Kuleba’s statement seemed to reflect political ambitions more than battlefield realities: Russian forces have made advances in the Donbas, and control more of it than they did before the war began.