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House approves $13.6bn in aid for battered Ukraine and European allies

Democrats were forced to abandon $15.6bn for combating the Covid pandemic

Shweta Sharma
Thursday 10 March 2022 15:11 GMT
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi holds a press conference on the House legislative agenda
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi holds a press conference on the House legislative agenda (EPA)

The US House passed a massive spending bill on Wednesday night to rush $13.6bn in aid to Ukraine and European allies battered by the Russian invasion.

Top Democrats were forced to abruptly drop their plan to incorporate fresh funds to battle the Covid-19 pandemic.

Congress had to race the clock to pass a spending bill by Friday when government funding is set to expire and prevent a government shutdown.

The House plans to pass a second bill to extend government funding through Tuesday so that the Senate has enough time to vote on it.

Both spending measures will now need to be approved by the Senate and sent to President Joe Biden for his signature.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that the $13.6bn funding is likely just the tip of a much broader aid effort for war-torn Ukraine.

She said it was "heartbreaking" that the House had to abandon the $15.6bn for combating the pandemic, which she said is a top priority for the Biden administration.

"We’ve got a war going on in Ukraine," Ms Pelosi told reporters, explaining the urgency Democrats felt in making concessions in bargaining with Republicans. "We have important work that we’re doing here."

“It is heartbreaking to remove the Covid funding, and we must continue to fight for urgently needed Covid assistance, but unfortunately that will not be included in this bill,” she added.

The government spending bills are known as omnibus in Capitol Hill and the 2,700-page legislation is the product of months of negotiations between Democratic and Republican appropriators.

The details of the legislation were only released early Wednesday but hit roadblocks as Democrats were forced to abandon $15.6bn which was meant for coronavirus relief funds. It was part of a larger $1.5t legislation.

The latest  $13.6bn in aid for Ukraine is more than $10bn that the Biden administration requested from Congress last week to provide humanitarian relief to Ukraine.

Ms Pelosi said she held a 45 minutes call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday and they discussed the weapons and other assistance his country needs.

She said they discussed "the crimes against humanity that Putin is committing," including a Russian airstrike that destroyed a maternity hospital. "This is the beast that Putin is," Ms Pelosi said.

After Covid relief funds were dropped, the House has planned to vote on another measure providing the full $15.6bn. It is expected to be voted on next week.

The legislation is expected to pass with support from leaders from both parties. The bill is backed by Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and said he would urge his caucus to vote in favour of it.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered.

To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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