United States President Joe Biden has submitted a request for about $40bn in additional spending, with over half slated to go towards support for Ukraine.
The proposal represents the first additional aid request made by the Biden administration to Congress since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in January.
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In response to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration is seeking $24bn in additional assistance for the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other countries facing knock-on effects from the violence.
While aid to Ukraine enjoys strong bipartisan support, a group of Republicans on the far right have grown increasingly resistant to providing more funding. Their leverage in the House, where Republicans hold a narrow majority, could prove a stumbling block.
In June, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told Punchbowl News that any additional Ukraine assistance requests were “not going anywhere”. Such aid would need to be allocated from the Pentagon’s discretionary spending during the annual congressional appropriations process, he said.
In a letter on Thursday, White House budget director Shalanda Young urged McCarthy to swiftly follow through on the US’s “commitment to the Ukrainian peoples’ defence of their homeland and to democracy around the world”, as well as other needs.
Thursday’s request includes $13bn in emergency defence aid to Ukraine and an additional $8bn for humanitarian support through the end of the year. It comes as a Ukrainian counteroffensive has slowed: Its forces have run up against heavily mined terrain and reinforced defensive fortifications.
The US has already approved four rounds of aid to Ukraine in response to Russia’s invasion, totalling about $113bn, with some of that money going towards replenishment of US military equipment that was sent to the front lines.
Congress approved the latest round of aid in December, with roughly $45bn earmarked for Ukraine and NATO allies.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer applauded Biden’s latest funding request, indicating the Democrat-led chamber would back it.
“The latest request from the Biden administration shows America’s continued commitment to helping Americans here at home and our friends abroad; and should send a clear signal to [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, the Chinese government, and others of America’s resolve when it comes to defending democracy around the world,” Schumer said in a statement.
The Biden spending request also included $4bn for border security and $12bn to replenish federal disaster funds amid a deadly season of heat, storms and wildfires exacerbated by climate change. An extra $416m would go to counter the illicit fentanyl trade.
US legislators are currently on their August recess, with a budget showdown over government funding expected upon their return.
They will have until October 1, the start of the new fiscal year, to pass spending bills to fund government agencies into next year. They could also pass a stopgap measure that keeps agencies running until they strike a longer-term agreement.