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House passes $40bn aid package to Ukraine despite Republican objections



The House of Representatives passed a $40bn aid package for Ukraine late Tuesday evening, teeing up a Senate vote later this week despite objections from House Republicans.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met President Joe Biden about her and Democratic leaders’ recent visit to Ukraine and meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky before the vote.

The House passed the legislation with 219 Democrats voting in favor of the legislation and 149 Republicans voting in favor of it. Only two Democrats did not vote for the legislation at all but 57 Republicans voted against the legislation.

At the same time, the passage comes without additional money to combat the Covid-19 pandemic at home, given that Republicans wanted a standalone package.

“Legislation that we put forward is because of the urgency that we saw when we were in Ukraine and in Poland,” she said in a news conference after the White House meeting. “Covid is a challenge to us and we need the resources to meet that challenge.”

On Monday, Mr Biden admitted that he would accept a Ukraine spending package without aid for Covid. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that he had spoken with Mr Biden last week and requested that the Ukraine legislation move by itself.

“He said ‘let me think it over,’ he called back in about 15 minutes and agreed that we need to do this, Ukraine only and quickly,” he said. “I think we’re on the path to getting that done.”

At the same time, plenty of Democrats lamented that the legislation did not include relief for Covid-19 relief.

“Well, I’m disappointed,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler told The Independent. “I think they should be together. I understand why they were taken apart but I wish it hadn’t been so.”

Mr Nadler said that he felt that aid for Covid-19 could pass later. Senate Republicans have objected to passing additional Covid-19 aid after the Biden administration reversed Title 42, a Trump-administration era provision that severely restricted immigration that it invoked at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In response, many Republican Senators have said they want a vote on an amendment to keep Title 42 in place. But Mr Nadler said he would have concerns about a Covid-19 package with a Title 42 provision.

“I would have a problem with that,” he said.

Representative Jamaal Bowman of New York said he was worried “a bit” about the separation.

“You know I hope Republicans don’t backtrack and hang us out to dry and we don’t move on Covid aid, because we need Covid aid as well” he told The Independent. When asked if he would vote on a Covid-19 aid package that had a Title 42 provision, he said he had reservations.

“That’s dicey, I don’t know man,” he said. “Title 42 is something we’ve been fighting again, to end, as you know. So that would be a big deal.”

Mr Bowman said Congress would support Ukraine but other countries in Latin America and Africa needed support as well as Muslims facing persecution in India.

Mr Bowman and Mr Nadler wound up voting for the Ukraine package. But many Republicans opposed additional aid.

But many Republicans opposed the legislation, saying there were more important priorities.

“Is our southern border secure,” Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado asked The Independent. “I don’t think our southern border is secure. I think we need to focus on America first policies rather sending another $40bn overseas.”

Representative Troy Nehls of Texas, said he would vote against the package because the bigger problem is that Mr Biden showed weakness with the exit from Afghanistan that Russian President Vladimir Putin sensed.

“So we’re going to spend billions and billions, eventually we’re going to spend billions to rebuild it,” he said. “The frustration of all of this is Putin shouldn’t even be in Ukraine. But why is he there? The weakness of this presidency. He’s weak.”

Mr Nehls contrasted it with the fact that Mr Putin did not invade Ukraine when Donald Trump was president.

“So no, he saw the dismal withdrawal from Afghanistan and he took advantage of it, and that’s what our adversaries do,” he said.

But Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina voted for the legislation and signaled she was inclined to when she spoke to The Independent before the vote.

“I think it’s important we support President Zelensky as much as we can,” she said, saying how Mr Zelensky fended off Mr Putin’s onslaught. “If we supply him with defence equipment, I think he’ll keep him at bay and win the war.”

Republican Representative Rodney Davis of Illinois who was seen walking out of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise’s office sipping a Busch Light beer.

When asked how he would vote for it, he said “you know what? We’ll find out when I get there.”

Mr Davis later voted in favour of the package.



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