Biden wants $37B more for Ukraine, setting up lame-duck fight
The White House requested an additional $37.7 billion in aid for Ukraine Tuesday, with more than half of the aid going toward arms transfers and restocking U.S. weapons stockpiles. If fulfilled, the request would more than double the total security aid that Washington has provided to Kyiv since Russia’s invasion in February.
The request sets the Biden administration up for a battle with conservative groups, several of which signed on to a recent letter that called on Washington to allow the newly elected Congress to be seated before lawmakers consider further funding for Ukraine.
“Proponents want to move before new majorities in either the House or Senate have an opportunity to weigh in on America’s Ukraine policy on behalf of increasingly skeptical constituents,” wrote the signatories, which included the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, Defense Priorities, and Concerned Veterans for America.
“Pushing through another aid package during this Congress’ lame-duck session with little debate or consideration for the will of the American people would disregard legislators’ responsibilities to U.S. interests,” they continued, arguing that such a move “flouts the will of American voters.”
The move could also see pushback in Congress: Conservative lawmakers like Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) opposed the decision to include Ukraine aid in a government funding resolution back in September, and others, including incoming House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, have questioned whether Kyiv should get a “blank check” from Washington.
Ukraine’s supporters in Congress have advocated for passing a lame-duck bill in order to assuage fears that a Republican-led House would be able to block future aid. Given the razor-thin majority that the GOP is expected to hold and the broad support for Ukraine among lawmakers, it is unclear whether these concerns are likely to turn into a reality.
If passed, the additional funds would increase the total assistance that Congress has authorized this year to over $100 billion, more than three times the amount that the U.S. is expected to spend annually on President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program.
Congress will likely take up the request in the coming weeks as it seeks to pass a spending bill that will keep the government funded past mid-December, when the current round of funding is set to expire.