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21 Apr, 2024 07:46

US Congress moves closer to approving Ukraine aid bill

The Senate is set to vote on additional support for Kiev on April 23
US Congress moves closer to approving Ukraine aid bill

A date has been set for the US Senate to vote on an emergency spending bill that includes new funding for Ukraine, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) announced on Saturday. The upper chamber of the Congress will begin considering the legislation on Tuesday, April 23, with the final decision expected by the end of the week.

Schumer praised the US House of Representatives for passing the bill after months of delays. Many Republican lawmakers previously refused to back the bill, tying their approval to demands for new funds to protect the country’s border with Mexico. The bill eventually passed by a vote of 311 to 112 on Saturday, with all Democrats and 101 Republicans voting in favor.

“[The House] at long last approved desperately needed funding for Ukraine, for Israel, for the Indo-Pacific, and for humanitarian assistance… Our allies across the world have been waiting for this moment, and I assure them the Senate is on the path to pass the same bill soon,” Schumer said in a statement.

The sweeping $95 billion package contains roughly $61 billion in financial assistance for Ukraine, including funds for the purchase of weapons and military equipment. The rest is allocated to Israel and Taiwan, among other priorities.

After the measure is adopted by both chambers of Congress, it will need to be signed into law by US President Joe Biden. Since last year, Biden had been telling lawmakers to approve the package and blamed Ukraine’s battlefield setbacks on their failure to do so. He pledged to sign the bill without delay.

“I urge the Senate to quickly send this package to my desk so that I can sign it into law and we can quickly send weapons and equipment to Ukraine to meet their urgent battlefield needs,” the president stated on Saturday.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said he was “grateful” to the House for passing the “vital” aid bill which, in his opinion, “will keep the war from expanding, [and] save thousands and thousands of lives.” Ukraine has suffered increasing shortages of ammunition and weaponry since Washington’s previous support package ran out earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Russia warned that Western aid and especially weapons shipments to Ukraine will only exacerbate the conflict. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Saturday that the House vote will “further enrich the US and further ruin Ukraine,” while former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated it will inevitably prolong the fighting and “increase the number of victims of this war.”

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