WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate completed congressional action Thursday on a new $40 billion aid package for Ukraine, overwhelmingly approving it and sending the measure to President Joe Biden for his expected signature.
The package is intended to buttress Ukraine over the next five months to combat Russia's ongoing invasion. It includes money for military equipment, training and weapons, as well as billions of dollars in humanitarian aid, including money to help address global food shortages caused by the three-month conflict.
The assistance replenishes stocks of U.S. equipment sent earlier to Ukraine and provides financing to help other countries that are assisting the Kyiv government.
The 86-11 Senate vote came on top of an equally lopsided vote in favor of the legislation in the House of Representatives last week, a broad show of continuing U.S. support for Ukraine at a time when the politically fractious Congress is often sharply divided on the major issues of the day. Republicans cast all the "no" votes in the Senate.
The aid package was about $7 billion more than Biden had proposed. But he has voiced support in one way or another for Ukraine almost daily and plans to sign the legislation while on his trip to Asia.
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Separately, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the administration was authorizing $100 million more in military aid to Ukraine. The package of aid includes 18 more howitzers and 18 vehicles to move them, and three more anti-artillery radars, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
This was the 10th time Biden used his authority under the Presidential Drawdown Authority to help arm Ukraine. The authority allows the president to transfer excess arms of the U.S. without needing the approval of Congress.
Also Thursday, at a meeting of the Group of Seven finance ministers in Germany, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the group approved $18.4 billion in financial aid to keep the Ukrainian economy afloat over the next three months, $3.4 billion more than Ukraine had requested.
'The message was, 'We stand behind Ukraine. We're going to pull together with the resources that they need to get through this,' ' Yellen told reporters.
Ahead of the Senate vote in Washington, several lawmakers said helping Ukraine in its fights against Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin was an imperative.
Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, "Aid for Ukraine goes far beyond charity. The future of America's security and core strategic interests will be shaped by the outcome of this fight."
"Anyone concerned about the cost of supporting a Ukrainian victory should consider the much larger cost should Ukraine lose," McConnell warned, calling on "every senator on both sides to join this bipartisan supermajority."
A Democratic lawmaker, Senator Jack Reed, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, "The next several months will be critical. I think the realization is ... that if the Russians succeed here, that won't satisfy them, that that will empower them to do more."
The Pentagon's Kirby said this week, "We all want to see the fighting end. What we're doing in the meantime is trying to provide as many advantages to the Ukrainian armed forces as we can so that they are in a better position on the battlefield - and, should there be a negotiated end to it, that they're in a better negotiating position as well."