Biden asks Congress to approve major aid package to Ukraine ahead of new Covid funding

United States President Joe Biden made his remarks at a Rose Garden event at the White House in Washington on May 9, 2022.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

President Joe Biden on Monday urged Congress to swiftly pass a multi-billion dollar aid package for Ukraine before trying to pass a new round of funding for Covid-19, warning that US aid to Ukrainian fighters is nearly exhausted.

Biden’s new stance marked a reversal from his earlier insistence last month military aid and pandemic funding are bundled together. The decoupling of the two bills significantly increases the chances of Congress approving the $ 33 billion in funding requested by Ukraine, while dampening hope for the $ 10 billion in Covid relief funds Biden said is needed to provide updated vaccines and injections for the fall.

“Previously, I had recommended that Congress take overdue action on much-needed funding for COVID treatments, vaccines and tests, as part of the Supplementary Bill for Ukraine,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House. .

“However, I was informed by congressional leaders of both parties that such an addition would slow down action on urgent Ukrainian aid, a view forcefully expressed by several congressional Republicans,” Biden said.

“We cannot afford delays in this vital war effort,” he said. “So, I am ready to accept that these two measures move separately, so that the Ukrainian aid bill can arrive at my desk right away.”

Biden had asked on April 28 Congress allocates $ 33 billion intended to cover humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine until September. According to Biden’s proposal, nearly two-thirds of that sum would go to security and military assistance for Ukraine as it pushes back invading Russian forces.

In his statement on Monday, Biden said the additional funding was both necessary and urgent, with the money for shipments to Ukraine due in ten days. “I have almost exhausted the resources provided to me by the bipartisan majority in Congress to support the Ukrainian fighters,” she said.

“This aid has been critical to Ukraine’s success on the battlefield. We cannot allow our assistance shipments to stop while we await further Congressional action,” Biden said.

His statement acknowledged that while there appears to be bipartisan support for the aid package, there is no such consensus for additional Covid funding. Republicans had opposed efforts by Democrats to pair the money for Ukraine with additional funding for pandemic aid.

“So I ask Congress to pass Ukraine’s Supplemental Funding Bill immediately and bring it to my desk in the next few days. And therefore, I urge Congress to move promptly to the COVID Funding Bill,” Biden said. .

He stressed that more congressional action is needed to tackle the pandemic.

“Without timely COVID funding, more Americans will die unnecessarily,” he said. “In the fall, if we get hit with new variants, it will be too late to get the tools needed for protection – critical treatments that will be available in Europe, but not in the US.”