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US Senate approves $40B fresh aid to Ukraine, President Biden expected to sign soon

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US Senate approves $40B fresh aid to Ukraine, President Biden expected to sign soon

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The legislation, approved 86-11, was backed by every voting Democrat and most Republicans. While many issues under President Joe Biden have collapsed under party-line gridlock, Thursday's lopsided vote signaled that both parties were largely unified about sending Ukraine the materiel it needs to fend off Russian President Vladimir Putin's more numerous forces.

US Senate approves $40B fresh aid to Ukraine, President Biden expected to sign soon
Senate overwhelmingly approves $40B in new aid to Ukraine in response to Russia's invasion, Biden is expected to sign quickly.
The legislation, approved 86-11, was backed by every voting Democrat and most Republicans. While many issues under President Joe Biden have collapsed under party-line gridlock, Thursday's lopsided vote signaled that both parties were largely unified about sending Ukraine the materiel it needs to fend off Russian President Vladimir Putin's more numerous forces.
"I applaud the Congress for sending a clear bipartisan message to the world that the people of the United States stand together with the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their democracy and freedom," Biden said in a written statement.
With control of Congress at stake in elections less than six months off, all no votes came from Republicans. The same thing happened in last week's 368-57 House vote, fueling campaign-season Democratic warnings that a nationalist wing of the GOP was in the thrall of former President Donald Trump and his isolationist, America First preferences.
Former President Trump, who still wields clout in the party, has accused Biden of throwing money at Ukraine while mothers lack baby formula, a crisis sparked by a supply chain problem over which the government has a scant impact.
Passage came as Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US had drawn down another $100 million worth of Pentagon weapons and equipment to ship to Kyiv, bringing total U.S. materiel sent there since the invasion began to $3.9 billion. He and other administration officials had warned that authority would be depleted by Thursday, but the new legislation will replenish the amount available by more than $8 billion.
Overall, around $24 billion in the measure is for arming and equipping Ukrainian forces, helping them finance weapons purchases, replacing US equipment dispatched to the theater, and paying for American troops deployed in nearby countries.
There is also $9 billion to keep Ukraine's government afloat and $5 billion to feed countries around the globe reliant on Ukraine's now diminished crop yields. And there is money to help Ukrainian refugees in the US seize Russian oligarchs' assets, reopen the US embassy in Kyiv and prosecute Russian war crimes.
The measure, which officials have said is designed to last through September, tripled the size of the initial $13.6 billion in Ukraine aid that lawmakers approved shortly after the February invasion.
The combined $54 billion price tag exceeds what the US has spent annually on all its military and economic foreign assistance in recent years, and approaches Russia's yearly military budget.
If the war drags on, as seems plausible, the US may have to eventually decide whether to spend more even as inflation, huge federal deficits, and a potential recession loom. Under those circumstances, winning bipartisan approval of any future aid bill could become tougher, especially as November draws near and cooperation between the parties frays.
Biden had proposed a $33 billion plan that lawmakers bolstered with added defense and humanitarian spending. He had to drop his request to include $22.5 billion more to fuel the government's continued fight against the pandemic, spending that was opposed by many Republicans and got entwined in a politically complicating fight over immigration.
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