Senate advances $40B Ukraine aid package

U.S. Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell, center, and from left, Susan Collins, John Cornyn and John Barrasso prepare to meet with Swedish media at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm after a meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Minister of Defense Peter Hultqvist on Sunday, May 15, 2022. McConnell said Sunday that Finland and Sweden would be “important additions” to NATO as he led a delegation of GOP senators to the region in a show of support against Russia’s aggression. (Anders Wiklund/TT News Agency via AP)

UPDATED 6:14 AM PT – Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Senate has advanced the $40 billion aid package for Ukraine. In an 81-to-11 vote Monday, the upper chamber overwhelmingly moved to put the measure to a final vote. The 11 senators who voted ‘no,’ including Tennessee Republican Bill Hagerty, expressed concerns of putting the war in Ukraine above American interests.

The measure easily passed in the House, but was single handedly stalled in the upper chamber by Kentucky Sen, Rand Paul last week. The Republican said lawmakers must install a special inspector general to oversee how the Ukraine military aid is spent. Paul explained that his oath of office “is to the national security of the United States of America.”

“The US is trying to recover from the $1.6 trillion we spent on wars in the Middle East,” he stated. “Not to mention the $5 trillion borrowed for COVID. We should not forget that the Soviet Union collapsed in large part, not because it was defeated militarily, but because it ran out of money.”

The lower chamber had passed the legislation in a 368-to-57 vote last week, just hours after the bill’s official text was released. All 57 opponents of the spending spree were Republicans. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) praised the bill’s passing as a monumental for a crisis that has raged for the past three months.

“We should all be very proud that we had the opportunity when (Vladimir) Putin decided whatever it is he decided, to be brutal and cruel and a coward, that we were there to help,” stated the top Democrat. “It’s about democracy versus a dictatorship.”

The aid is supposedly split evenly between military and humanitarian efforts with billions of dollars going towards training Ukrainian troops, replenishing weapons stores, propping up the Ukrainian economy and aiding refugees in the US.

The bill is $7 billion more than President Joe Biden’s initial request and will put the American aid to Ukraine up to $54 billion since the war first began. With its passing, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) claimed the latest push will bring the crisis closer to a conclusion.

“This bill ensures that we are one step closer to making them pay the full price for their actions,” she stated. “And in the process, we will be standing firmly with the Ukrainian people while combating the exploitation of Ukraine’s vulnerable financial system.”

Biden and the Democrat Party initially wanted to tie the package in with additional funding to combat COVID. However, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-K.Y.) had pledged to stand in the way of the bill’s passage unless COVID relief funds were dropped.

A final vote on the aid package is expected later this week.

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