Speed Reads

Arsenal of Democracy

Biden signs Ukraine lend-lease act, urges Congress to pass $40 billion aid package this week

President Biden on Monday signed the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022, easing requirements for sending U.S. military aide to Ukraine as it fends off Russia's invasion. "The cost of the fight is not cheap," Biden said. "But caving to aggression is even more costly." After signing the law, which harkens back to the 1941 lend-lease law the U.S. used to arm Britain against Nazi Germany, Biden handed the pen to Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.), the first Ukrainian-born member of Congress. 

Biden on Monday also urged Congress to pass a $40 billion supplemental spending bill to aid Ukraine "immediately, and get it to my desk in the next few days." House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the House will consider the bill on Tuesday. Biden had requested $33 billion for military and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine, plus other spending to counter Russia's invasion, but Congress added billions more for food aid and military assistance, CNN reports.

To expedite the bipartisan legislation's passage, Biden asked Congress to decouple it from a $10 billion bill to continue the fight against COVID-19 and prepare for increased cases and future pandemics. 

Congress has already authorized $3.5 billion this year to send U.S. weapons to Ukraine, but "as of today, only $100 million remains in authority we can use for drawdown," Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told Congress on Monday. "We expect to exhaust that authority no later than May 19," so "we will need additional appropriations by that date — including authorizations for additional drawdowns —if we are to continue our security assistance at the current pace."