US Senate clears $40-billion aid package to Ukraine

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In a rare gesture of bipartisanship, the U.S. Senate voted 86–11 to pass a Ukrainian aid package bill on Thursday, May 19. The amount of the aid package is nearly $40 billion.

According to CNN, the bill passed the House earlier this month. It will now be flown to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. The President left Thursday for his first trip to Asia as commander-in-chief and will sign the relief measure while in South Korea.

The legislation provides both military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. This includes military funding, replenishing American equipment, and health and medical support for the Ukrainian refugees. The allocated sum for military equipment and weapons increased from the initial $5 billion proposed to $11 billion. $6 billion is allocated to the Biden administration purchasing weapons from contractors to send to Ukraine. This means that equipment is not sourced from U.S. stockpiles.

The funding will provide more than hardware for the military and security forces. It will cover the costs of training, intelligence aid, and logistics. To appease those who opposed the bill, $9 billion has been allocated to restock the U.S. weapons that have been sent to Ukraine. $3.9 billion is set aside for command operations, including mission and intelligence support and hardship pay for troops deployed to the region.

While no U.S. troops have been sent into Ukraine, additional units have been deployed to neighboring eastern European nations since the Russian invasion began. The Department of Defense has stated that this is a gesture to support NATO allies.

For humanitarian relief, $900 million has been designated for refugee assistance. This includes housing, trauma support, and even English instruction for the people fleeing the country in droves. $54 million has been pledged to health and medical support for these refugees.

Though some senators balked at the cost of the aid package, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell noted he felt like voting against the bill would be a significant mistake. On the Senate floor, he reminded those who were hesitant about the cost to “consider the higher cost if Ukraine loses.”

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