President Joe Biden will sign a $40 billion US aid package for Ukraine during his trip to Asia in an effort to put weapons into the hands of the Ukrainian military and resources to its people without interruption.
The Senate approved the measure Thursday after the president and his team headed to Seoul, the first leg of his trip to South Korea and Japan.
“The president intends to sign the bill while he is away so he can sign it quickly,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters traveling with the president.
“There won’t be a gap for that very reason,” Sullivan said. ‘Then we will have the kind of continuity of support that we ask for. And for that we are grateful for the bipartisan support we received from Congress, who stepped up and did this in a timely manner,” he added.
An aide is expected to send a hard copy of the legislation to Asia once it is signed up to deliver to Biden for his signature, after which it will become law.
President Joe Biden boarded Air Force One Thursday at the start of a trip to Seoul, Korea, his first trip to Asia as president. He will sign a $40 billion bill to provide support for Ukraine
The White House has not provided further details on when Biden will sign it.
The president has plenty of time for him to sign the legislation upon his return next week. But the administration has been urging swift action as its withdrawal authority to provide ammunition to Ukraine is running out even as it seeks to defend against a continued Russian offensive to the east and south.
Ukrainian leaders sounded the alarm that the nation would be left without aid on Thursday if Congress did not act.
The signing of the bill is just the first sign of how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is expected to further its agenda, even as it seeks to break away to focus on the Asia Pacific region.
The bill passed the Senate 86-11
Destroyed Russian armored vehicles cars and trucks are stacked on a vacant lot on the outskirts of the Bucha war zone on May 19, 2022 in Bucha, Ukraine. The United States is providing more artillery and anti-tank weapons to Ukraine
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) was one of 11 Republicans who voted against the Ukraine aid package.
“The president intends to sign the bill while he is away so he can sign it quickly,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.
The announcement came after the Senate approved the aid package in a bipartisan vote of 86-11, with all Republican opponents.
Sullivan’s statement of thanks came after Biden thanked leaders of both parties in a White House statement, even as other key administration priorities are languishing.
The military component will bolster Ukraine’s armed forces as the war approaches its fourth month.
The move brings total US funding for the conflict to $54 million in two months.
Republican objectors complained that there were more pressing issues at home and complained of insufficient oversight.
Senators who voted against the $40 million aid to Ukraine
Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky.
Marsha Blackburn, Republican from Tennessee.
John Boozman, R-Ark.
Mike Braun, Republican from Indiana.
Mike Crapo, Republican from Idaho
Bill Hagerty, Republican from Tennessee.
Josh Hawley, R-Mo.
Mike Lee, Republican from Utah
Cynthia Lummis, Republican of Wyoming.
Roger Marshall, Republican for Kan.
Tommy Tuberville, Republican Wing
“I applaud Congress for sending a clear bipartisan message to the world that the people of the United States stand with the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their democracy and freedom,” Biden said in a statement about the bill. “The resources I requested will allow us to send even more weapons and ammunition to Ukraine, replenish our own stockpiles and support US troops stationed on NATO territory.”
The president also announced that he will bring another security assistance package in the form of artillery, radar and other equipment.
Senator Rand Paul had defied leaders of both parties and prevented the Senate from quickly passing the bill last week.
Paul had demanded that new language be inserted into the bill that would have an inspector general review the new spending.
Then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki criticized Paul’s move, saying the bill “already includes millions of dollars to support additional oversight measures, including additional funding for existing inspectors general.”
Other opponents of Thursday’s vote included Senators Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, John Boozman, R-Arkansas, Mike Braun, R-Indiana, Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Bill Hagerty, R-Tennessee, Josh Hawley, R -Mo., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., Roger Marshall, R-Kan., and Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.
Russia is now more than two months into what was supposed to be a war of days after losing thousands of troops and vehicles in what amounts to a catastrophe for Putin.
Destroyed Russian armored vehicles, cars and trucks, pile up on a vacant lot on the outskirts of the Bucha war zone on May 19.
A Ukrainian policeman checks the remains of a severely damaged sunflower seed processing plant after a Russian shelling in the village of Velyka Kostromka, Ukraine, on Thursday, May 19.
Senator Mitch McConnell’s Minority Leader, R-Kentucky, who visited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky over the weekend, pushed Republicans to vote for the bill and predicted it would pass easily.
“It’s going to be a bipartisan landslide victory,” McConnell said Thursday before the vote. “Anyone concerned about the cost of supporting a Ukrainian victory should consider the much higher costs if Ukraine loses.”
After the vote, Paul said he didn’t think Americans would have supported aid if they had known what it cost them.
“Those senators who voted to give away $40 billion to Ukraine argue that it is in our national security interest,” Paul said on the Senate floor after the vote. “I wonder if Americans across our country would agree if they had been shown the costs, if they had been asked to pay for it.”
Paul added: “By my calculations, every taxpayer in our country would have to pay $500 to back this $40 billion, which by some accounts is a down payment and will need to be replenished in about four months.”
Sullivan was also asked en route what it would mean for Biden’s visit if North Korea conducts another ballistic missile or nuclear test while the president is here.
“This could see the United States only increase our strength in terms of defending our allies and cause adjustments in how our military is positioned in the region,” Sullivan said.
“As far as the trip goes, I think all I would do is underscore, underscore one of the main messages that we’re sending on this trip, which is that the United States is here for our allies and partners. We are here to help provide deterrence and defense for the Republic of Korea and Japan. We will respond to any threat and any aggression decisively,” he added.