Republicans and Democrats receptive to Biden’s $33 billion Ukraine aid package

Republicans and Democrats are signaling they’ll back President Biden’s proposed $33 billion supplemental aid package for Ukraine’s military, economic and humanitarian needs.

Asked if he would support the latest proposed infusion of funds to the war-torn country, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell responded Thursday, “Very likely, yes.”

Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Senator Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, says he anticipates bipartisan support, although he added he hasn’t yet spoken with Republicans about the package. 

“I expected a robust one and we need a robust one to support Ukraine, so I assume that it will have bipartisan support,” Menendez told reporters Thursday, adding that he thinks the vote “should be next week.”

According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, work on the measure should be starting shortly.

“We were ready with our Appropriations Committee to start writing as soon as we got the numbers from the Office of Management and Budget, and the president’s announcement made public, and we hope to as soon as possible, pass that legislation,” she said Thursday. 

But the Ukraine funding bill may run into some bumps on its way to passage. Some Democrats want to link additional COVID-19 funding and Ukraine aid together, something some Republicans have opposed. Pelosi said she’s “all for” linking the two issues into one piece of legislation. 

“I’m all for that, I think it’s very important,” she said. “We have emergencies here. We need to have the COVID money, and we need — time is of the essence because we need the Ukraine money. We need the COVID money. So I would hope that we can do that. That’s — this is called legislation and we’re legislating and we’ll have to come to terms on how we do that.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday did not express a strong preference as to whether the two issues should be linked legislatively, saying they are both extremely important and need to materialize as soon as possible. 

A House Democratic leadership aide told CBS News “there will be bicameral, bipartisan talks on the supplemental request.” 

“It is also unresolved which chamber will work to advance the supplemental first,” the aide said. “This will not be an instant process.”

Introducing his $33 billion request Thursday, the president said it’s “critical” that Congress approve the funds “as quickly as possible.” He said the drawdown funding authorized by Congress last month to boost Ukraine’s military efforts is nearly depleted.

“The cost of this fight is not cheap, but caving to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen,” the president said at the White House. “We either back the Ukrainian people as they defend their country, or we stand by as the Russians continue their atrocities and aggression in Ukraine.”

The president’s latest request from the White House is much higher than the $13.6 billion Congress included in a broader spending bill last month. 

House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Mike McCaul said Thursday “time is of the essence” in providing more military aid to Ukraine. 

“Every time I talked to the Ukrainians, and I talked to them a lot, it’s always about weapons,” McCaul said. “Zelenskyy, his biggest criticism is I could have used these weapons last October. I signed off on all the foreign military weapons sales, and this administration sat on these weapons until after the invasion. And now they’re trying to play catch-up. So time is really of the essence to save lives and help the Ukrainians win the struggle that’s quite frankly, the largest invasion in Europe since my father’s war, World War II.”

— CBS News’ Alan He, Rebecca Kaplan and Melissa Quinn contributed to this report. 

Reference-www.cbsnews.com

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