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Congress’ Massive Spending Bill Sets Aside Another $45 Billion For Ukraine

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Congress appropriated an additional $45 billion in emergency assistance to help Ukraine repel Russia’s invasion in its yearly spending bill released early Tuesday.

The bill is Congress’ largest assistance package for Ukraine to date, following a $40 billion package signed into law in May, a $12 billion supplement in September and $800 million authorized in Congress’ defense spending budget, bringing the total anticipated support for Ukraine in 2022 to nearly $100 billion. It exceeds President Joe Biden’s $37 billion request for military, economic and humanitarian support for Ukraine despite some Republican opposition to offering a “blank check” to Ukraine.

“Finalizing the omnibus is critical, absolutely critical for supporting our friends in Ukraine,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said, according to The Associated Press.

Congress appropriated $858 billion in defense funding, in line with the FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act that passed the Senate last week.

It includes $9 billion in direct military assistance under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and $11.9 billion to finance future drawdowns of U.S. weapons stocks and replacements with new equipment through September 2024, the bill shows. Other funds go toward upgrading U.S. troop presence in Europe, expanding research and development programs and increasing procurement thresholds.

It also directs the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense to provide Congress with a report on actions taken to guarantee that weapons given to Ukraine reach their targeted recipient and are used per their intended purpose, as well as “any other measures to promote accountability” for the use of such weapons, within 45 days after the bill’s enactment. Appropriators also directed the secretaries to report on any illicit diversions of weapons supplies.

The bill instructs The U.S. Agency For International Development, along with the Departments of State and Defense, to contract with a third party for weapons monitoring and adds provisions intended to safeguard cash transfers.

In addition, Congress appropriated at least $12.9 billion for economic aid and $2.4 billion for refugee resettlement in the U.S., along with Department of Energy funding for nuclear security.

Some Republicans have decried the apparent open checkbook the U.S. has offered to Ukraine: Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri called the assistance “not in America’s interests,” and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgie alleged in October the billions in U.S. funding only served to perpetuate war with Russia.

But most GOP lawmakers have supported continuing aid and assistance for Ukraine as a way of dealing with America’s foes while preserving lives of U.S. soldiers.

“Every day Russia spends on the back foot in Ukraine degrades its own ability to wage further wars and dramatically changes the cost-benefit calculus for others who might contemplate similar violence,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said in a statement following the passage of the NDAA.

The omnibus spending package also supports $2 billion in foreign military financing for Taiwan in 2023, aimed at staving off Chinese aggression toward the disputed island.

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