WASHINGTON, May 9 (Reuters) – Democrats in the U.S. Congress have agreed to send $39.8 billion in additional aid to Ukraine, two sources familiar with the proposal said on Monday, easing fears that a delayed vote could disrupt the flow of US weapons to the government in kyiv.

The House of Representatives could approve the plan, which tops President Joe Biden’s request last month of $33 billion, as soon as Tuesday, and Senate leaders said they too were prepared to act quickly.

An additional funding proposal related to COVID-19, which some Democrats wanted to combine with Ukraine’s emergency funding, will now be considered separately.

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On April 28, Biden asked Congress for $33 billion to support Ukraine, including more than $20 billion in military assistance. That proposal was a dramatic escalation of US funding for the war with Russia. read more

The new proposal includes an additional $3.4 billion for military aid and $3.4 billion in humanitarian aid, the sources said.

Both Biden’s fellow Democrats and Republicans said they supported more aid for Ukraine and would pass emergency funding quickly, but it was delayed due to partisan wrangling over whether additional funding for COVID-19 relief or checks should be included. stricter immigration.

SUPPLY INTERRUPTION?

The delay sparked concern throughout the capital.

Biden issued a statement asking lawmakers to approve the funding and bring it to his desk for him to sign into law in the coming days. “We cannot allow our aid shipments to stop while we wait for further action from Congress,” he said.

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In letters to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Top Republican Kevin McCarthy, and key committee chairs in both the House and Senate, Secretary of State State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the military had enough funds to send weapons to kyiv for just the next two weeks.

“We need your help,” Blinken and Austin wrote in the letters reviewed by Reuters. They said only $100 million remained to be used under an authority that allows the president to authorize arms transfers without congressional approval in response to an emergency.

“We expect to exhaust that authority no later than May 19, 2022,” they wrote.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters he was pleased that assistance to Ukraine had been decoupled from COVID-19 aid. He had advocated a “clean” Ukraine bill repeatedly in speeches in the Senate.

Some Democrats said they were disappointed that COVID-19 aid was being considered separately.

“It would have been much better for us to protect the United States and work to protect Ukraine,” Second Senate Democrat Dick Durbin told reporters.

Asked if separating aid to Ukraine hurts the prospects for COVID-19 aid, Durbin said: “It doesn’t help. Putting those two together would have been positive.”

In his statement, Biden called on Congress to act quickly on COVID-19 funding. “Without timely COVID funding, more Americans will die unnecessarily,” he said.

“We will lose our place in line for the United States to order new COVID treatments and vaccines for the fall, including next-generation vaccines in development, and we will not be able to maintain our supply of COVID tests.”

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Separately, Biden on Monday signed legislation reviving the “Lend-Lease Act,” a World War II-era program that helped defeat Hitler’s Germany by allowing Washington to lend or lease military equipment to allies of the United States more quickly.

In this case, it will help those affected by the Russian invasion, such as Poland and other Eastern European countries, as well as Ukraine.

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Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, Idrees Ali, and Richard Cowan; Edited by Leslie Adler, Howard Goller, and Richard Pullin

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



Reference-www.reuters.com

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