Congress approves billions in aid to Ukraine through major spending bill
Washington DC - Congress reached a deal in the early hours of Wednesday to extend more than $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine and other European allies as part of a larger $1.5-trillion spending measure.
The amount in aid rose from Biden's original $10 billion last week to $12 billion on Monday and $13.6 billion the day after, the Associated Press reported.
$4 billion of that sum will reportedly be used to assist European countries with the intake of refugees out of Ukraine.
Another $6.7 billion will go toward military supplies shipments to Ukraine to help locals fend off Russian attacks. The money will also be used to deploy US troops to the region.
In addition, resources were included to enforce economic sanctions on Russia.
"War in Europe has focused the energies of Congress to getting something done and getting it done fast," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the bill's passage.
Overall, the bill included $782 billion allocated toward defense – a 5.6% increase over 2021. Social spending received $730 billion, marking a 6.7% increase.
Last spring, Biden proposed a 16% rise in social spending and just a 2% defense increase.
What else is in the bill?
In addition to funding for Ukrainian aid, the bill also provided boosts to ongoing efforts to curb the coronavirus. $15.6 billion will go toward Covid vaccines, testing, and treatments.
Republicans claimed that Democrats were forced to foot the entire bill for Covid measures thanks to GOP efforts to hold back money from prior relief bills.
The bill makes some investments in childcare, affordable housing, climate action, and other Democratic priorities.
It also renews the Violence Against Women Act. However, it includes language that would prohibit the use of federal money to fund abortions – even as reproductive rights are under threat across GOP-led states.
According to Alabama's senior GOP Sen. Richard Shelby, the bill "rejects liberal policies and effectively addresses Republican priorities."
Cover photo: IMAGO / UPI Photo