By Special Correspondent
Washington: Amid Puttin’s harsh advancement and Kyiv’s strong yet calculated defense, the US Congress on Tuesday unveiled its third Ukraine supplemental aid package consisting of $12.3 billion in military and economic support for Kyiv as part of the stopgap government funding bill lawmakers need to pass this week to avoid a shutdown.
According to US media reports, the package includes $7.5 billion in military assistance and another $4.5 billion in economic and humanitarian support, on par with the amounts the White House asked for earlier this month as part of its latest Ukraine supplemental request.
This bill will keep vital services running for the American people through Dec. 16 and provide critical support for Ukraine while we negotiate a bipartisan, bicameral omnibus appropriations bill,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said in a statement.
According to US media reports The bill allocates $3 billion of the $7.5 billion in military aid for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which allows the Pentagon to contract for new weapons and equipment for Kyiv, and another $2.8 billion to bolster U.S. forces stationed in the European theater. It also appropriates $1.5 billion in funding to backfill U.S. stockpiles of weapons already sent to Ukraine, an amount that includes $540 million for critical munitions replenishment.
The Pentagon inspector general is also set to receive $2 million in additional funds to oversee this aid.
Notably, the bill also provides the National Nuclear Security Administration with $35 million “to prepare for and respond to potential nuclear and radiological incidents in Ukraine.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin last week threatened to use nuclear weapons if the country comes under attack. During the same speech, he announced referenda in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, paving the way for potential annexation by Moscow. At the same time, Putin also instated a mass military mobilization.
In addition to the $7.5 billion in military aid appropriations, the bill also authorizes a separate $3.7 billion in presidential drawdown authority, which allows the White House to send additional security aid to Ukraine from existing U.S. stockpiles. President Joe Biden has used his presidential drawdown authority at least 20 times since August 2021 to provide approximately $12.5 billion in U.S. military equipment to Ukraine.
The Senate is scheduled today to begin its first procedural vote on the continuing resolution to fund the government, which includes the latest Ukraine aid supplemental.
Congress in March approved its first $13.6 billion Ukraine supplemental aid package. Lawmakers tripled that funding in May with a $40 billion package of military, economic, and food aid for Ukraine and U.S. allies, which the White House says was designed to last through September. This third supplemental package will bring the total amount of aid to Ukraine that Congress has allocated so far this year to more than $65 billion.
While all aid packages for Kyiv have enjoyed robust bipartisan support so far, a rift on Ukraine assistance among Republicans could complicate the passage of future supplemental assistance bills if they take control of Congress in the November midterm elections.
A total of 68 Republicans, 57 in the House and 11 in the Senate, voted against the last Ukraine aid supplemental package. The influential Heritage Action, the lobbying arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, joined several other right-leaning groups in lobbying against both the latest round of Ukraine aid and the $40 billion supplemental Congress passed in May.
The House’s No. 2 and 3 Republican leaders — Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and conference chair Elise Stefanik of New York — wouldn’t commit to their conference keeping the aid flowing should Republicans take control of the House, even though they both cast votes in favor of Ukraine aid in the past