President Joe Biden is requesting Congress to fast-track his $40 billion aid package for Ukraine as the conflict with Russia continues.
According to Politico, the package could be voted on as early as Tuesday, while the Senate is expected to take it up within the next two weeks. The U.S. has already provided millions of dollars in aid and $3.8 billion in arms and equipment for Ukraine since the conflict began late February.
In a statement, Biden said that the billions in aid previously sent to the country was being “exhausted.”
“The need is also urgent,” he said. “I have nearly exhausted the resources given to me by a bipartisan majority in Congress to support Ukraine’s fighters. This aid has been critical to Ukraine’s success on the battlefield. We cannot allow our shipments of assistance to stop while we await further Congressional action.”
The President also requested Congress to put aside COVID-19 funding and prioritize aid for Ukraine.
“We cannot afford delay in this vital war effort,” he said. “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.”
Senate Minority Whip John Thune said that it was likely the Senate would look at the bill next week.
In addition to the passage of the massive aid package, Democrats are still pushing for COVID-19 funds. “We’re going to have real problems this fall with COVID and it’s a mistake not to have both together,” said Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
Politico points out that the U.S. government still needs to fulfill a COVID-19 pill contract worth $5 billion.
On Monday, President Biden signed a bill to expedite the process of sending military aid to Ukraine, titled the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022.
Biden vowed the United States will continue to support Ukraine “in their fight to defend their country and their democracy,” against Russia.
“Every day Ukrainians fight for their lives,” Biden said. “The cost of the fight is not cheap, but caving to aggression is even more costly.”
The program is similar to the lend-lease program that President Franklin D. Roosevelt began with allied countries in 1941, which turned the tide of WW2.
FDR’s lend-lease program took more than half a century for countries, including the United Kingdom and Russia, to finally pay off.