Ukraine aid bill has billions for Pentagon, arms makers
About half of the funds in the $39.8 billion measure would go to military spending
House appropriators released a $39.8 billion Ukraine aid bill that directs half of its largesse to the Pentagon and U.S. arms makers.
The aid package comes in at $6.8 billion more than the $33 billion President Joe Biden requested and would buttress Ukraine as the country settles in for what could be a drawn-out war with Russia. The military spending in it totals approximately $20 billion.
Biden and Democratic leaders agreed this week to Republican demands to pass the bill without adding billions of dollars more that Biden wants to pay for COVID-19 vaccines, tests and therapeutics. Republicans are skeptical of spending more on coronavirus relief and, if Democrats bring a COVID-19 bill up, want a vote on Biden's plan to lift a policy that makes it easier to turn back asylum-seekers at the border because of the public health emergency.
The Ukraine bill would provide $6 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, a program used to train, equip and support the Ukrainian armed forces. Another $8.7 billion would go to replenishing U.S. stocks of munitions and other equipment that the Defense Department has sent to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24.
European Command Operations would receive $3.9 billion for mission and intelligence support to the Ukrainians. The bill also includes hardship pay for U.S. troops deployed to the region, and increases the cap on assistance the U.S. can provide to friendly foreign nations, from $450 million to $950 million.
Just over $1.1 billion would go to boosting the production of munitions in the United States. Of those funds, $600 million aims to help arms makers with costs associated with expanding the domestic manufacturing of missiles and securing critical components needed for other weapons.
The Pentagon would get another $500 million to increase critical weapons stocks, with an additional $50 million marked for developing protection strategies for weapons systems that the DOD may want to export in the future.
The legislation requires an inspector general to oversee the funds, and asks the Pentagon to report on measures taken to monitor equipment provided to Ukraine.
Another $11 billion would replenish the president’s drawdown authority, which the White House has warned is reaching its end, allowing Biden to continue sending excess defense equipment to Kyiv. A manager's amendment approved by the Rules Committee would add another $304 million in drawdown authority.
The House is expected to vote on the Ukraine aid package Tuesday evening.