WASHINGTON â€” The $1.5 trillion spending bill that passed the House on Wednesday was fueled in large part by bipartisan support for an emergency aid package for Ukraine, which would steer $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian assistance to the war-torn country under assault by Russia.
The emergency funds, details of which were released only hours ahead of Wednesday nightâ€™s vote, are evenly split between military and humanitarian aid, with money earmarked to cover the costs of American troops deployed to Europe and to provide emergency assistance to both Ukrainians still living in the country and those who have fled.
The price tag of the package has ballooned from $6.4 billion, the initial request from the White House, reflecting the furious backlash in Congress to Russiaâ€™s brutal assault on Ukraine â€” and how, struggling to unite behind meaningful assistance for Kyiv, Republicans and Democrats have resorted to one of the few substantive tools available to them: sending money and weapons.
â€œThe brave, freedom-loving people of Ukraine and our allies in the region will receive urgently needed investments to fight Vladimir Putin and the Russiansâ€™ illegal and immoral invasion,â€ Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, said in a joint statement detailing the spending.
The bill would send $6.5 billion to the Pentagon to cover the costs of deploying American troops to Eastern-flank allies and providing Ukrainian forces with intelligence support, as well as to backfill weapons the United States has already sent to the government in Kyiv. The Biden administration initially requested $4.8 billion in military aid.
Lawmakers in both parties have been eager to help arm the Ukrainian military, and that appetite only grew after Ukraineâ€™s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, met with members of Congress last weekend and pleaded for additional jets and weapons.
President Biden earlier this month authorized a $350 million package of weapons that included Javelin antitank missiles and Stinger antiaircraft missiles as well as small arms and munitions, a shipment that represented the largest single authorized transfer of arms from U.S. military warehouses to another country. The United States alone has deployed more than 15,000 troops to Europe, while committing an additional 12,000 to NATOâ€™s response force if necessary.
The bill would devote $2.65 billion to the United States Agency for International Development to provide emergency food assistance and health care to Ukrainians and other affected people in the region. And it also includes nearly $120 million for the Justice and Treasury Departments to prosecute those who violate new sanctions and export control measures imposed by the United States to try to squeeze the Russian economy.
Hours after she spoke on the phone with Mr. Zelensky for nearly 45 minutes, Ms. Pelosi indicated that Congress would likely need to provide more aid in the future.
â€œWhat he did ask for was help in the rebuilding of Ukraine,â€ Ms. Pelosi said, â€œand all of us are going to help in the rebuilding, because the beast that is Putin is just destroying civilian areas.â€ Ms. Pelosi added later: â€œAll of us will have to do more.â€
The House also voted, 414 to 17, on Wednesday night to ban oil and gas imports from Russia and review Moscowâ€™s membership in the World Trade Organization.
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The White House had initially balked at the idea of banning Russian gas and oil, citing fears about a resulting spike in gas prices for American consumers, but under pressure from Republicans and Democrats in Congress Mr. Biden announced on Monday that he was doing so.
At the White Houseâ€™s request, Democrats ultimately stripped out a measure to revoke Russiaâ€™s preferred trade status in the World Trade Organization.
â€œThe president rightfully wants to talk to our allies about that action and what their view is,â€ said Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland and the majority leader. â€œItâ€™ll have a bigger impact on our allies.â€
The move infuriated Republicans, who have long called to take away Russiaâ€™s favored trade status. But many of them supported the bill anyway, arguing it would send an important message to Moscow.
â€œThe ban on Russian oil alone, I think, is worth our support,â€ said Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee. â€œBut Iâ€™m going to urge Congress to do more to revoke Russiaâ€™s special trade status and unleash Americaâ€™s own ability to be energy independent.â€
Luke Broadwater contributed reporting.