The Senate’s top appropriator for foreign aid on Friday said he sees strong bipartisan support for passing an emergency spending bill totaling $10 billion or more to address dire needs stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking to reporters after his return from a weeklong trip to Germany, Poland and Lithuania, Senate State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Chairman Chris Coons, D-Del., listed the many needs he sees that are not accounted for in fiscal 2022 funding levels still being negotiated by lawmakers.
Those needs include more security assistance for Ukraine and other Eastern European countries worried that Russia might attack them; higher military costs to account for the just-announced deployment of 7,000 U.S. troops to Europe; an expected “millions” of refugees who are likely to flee Ukraine for Poland and other Eastern European countries in the coming weeks and months; and higher funding support for the Treasury Department in order to implement and enforce the slew of new sanctions on Russia’s economy that President Joe Biden announced this week.
Russian forces were attacking Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv on Friday morning as the Ukrainian government urged its citizens to attack the Russian invaders with homemade Molotov cocktails and guns it handed out to civilians, according to news reports. Since the invasion began on Thursday, nearly 140 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have been reported killed.
“I am confident that we will need billions of dollars to support the likely millions of refugees that will flood into Poland and other countries in Eastern Europe,” Coons said, describing the State-Foreign Operations-related parts of an expected supplemental funding bill.
Other lawmakers — Republicans and Democrats — on Thursday also expressed support for a large Ukraine aid package.
Coons said he and other senators had been briefed via telephone for some 90 minutes Thursday night by top Biden administration Cabinet officials, including Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken about the situation in Ukraine. The senior appropriator said he came away from the call confident that his Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle were strongly supportive of passing a supplemental spending bill and any other additional sanctions authorities the Biden administration might request.
“There is strong enthusiasm to provide ongoing resupply and training and any other covert and other support necessary for the Ukrainian resistance,” he said.
“$10 billion is probably on the low end because I’m not counting in what may be a robust defense-side request,” Coons said, noting that Austin did not offer a specific emergency funding figure from the Pentagon during the call.