Biden called on Congress to pass major aid package to Ukraine ‘immediately’ before new COVID funding

President Joe Biden urged Congress on Monday to quickly approve a multibillion-dollar aid package for Ukraine before trying to pass a new round of Covid-19 funding, warning that US aid to that country’s fighters is nearly exhausted.

Biden’s new stance was a reflection of his insistence last month Military aid and epidemic financing are pooled together. The separation of the two bills dramatically increases Congress’ chances of passing $33 billion in needed funding for Ukraine, while hope dwindles on the $10 billion in Covid relief money Biden said is needed to supply updated vaccines and shots in the fall.

“Previously, I recommended that Congress take overdue action on much-needed funding for COVID treatments, vaccines, and testing, as part of the Ukraine supplement bill,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House.

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks during the Rose Garden event at the White House in Washington, May 9, 2022.

Kevin Lamarck | Reuters

“However, congressional leaders in both parties have told me that such an addition will slow work on much-needed Ukrainian assistance – a view that has been forcefully expressed by many Republicans in Congress,” Biden said.

“We cannot afford to delay this vital war effort,” he said. “Then, I am willing to accept that these two measures move separately, so that the bill for Ukraine’s aid reaches my office immediately.”

Biden had asked on April 28 Congress to allocate $33 billion It intends to cover humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine until September. Under Biden’s proposal, nearly two-thirds of that amount would go to security and military aid to Ukraine as it fends off invading Russian forces.

In his statement Monday, Biden said the additional funding is both necessary and urgent, as funds for shipments to Ukraine are set to run out within 10 days. “I have almost exhausted the resources that a bipartisan majority in Congress gave me to support Ukraine’s fighters,” he said.

“This assistance has been critical to Ukraine’s success on the battlefield,” Biden said. “We cannot allow our aid shipments to stall while we wait for more Congressional action.”

His statement acknowledged that while there appears to be bipartisan support for the aid package, there is no consensus on more Covid funding. Republicans have opposed Democrats’ efforts to pair money for Ukraine with additional funding for pandemic relief.

“So I am calling on Congress to pass Ukraine’s supplemental funding bill immediately, and get it to my desk in the next few days,” Biden said. “And then, I’m urging Congress to act quickly on the COVID funding bill.”

He stressed that Congress requires more measures to address the epidemic.

“Without timely COVID funding, more Americans will needlessly die,” he said. “In the fall, if we are affected by new variables, it will be too late to have the tools to protect – the critical treatments that will be available in Europe, but not the United States.”