Ukraine Crisis | World

U.S. House passes military lend-lease bill to speed Ukraine aid

U.S. President Joe Biden arrives to announce additional military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine as well as fresh sanctions against Russia, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 28, 2022.

U.S. President Joe Biden arrives to announce additional military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine as well as fresh sanctions against Russia, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 28, 2022. | Photo Credit: Reuters

The U.S. House gave final passage Thursday to legislation that would streamline a World War II-era military lend-lease program to more quickly provide Ukraine and other Eastern European countries with American equipment to fight the Russian invasion.

The measure, which passed by an overwhelming 417-10 vote, now goes to the White House for President Joe Biden to sign into law.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Gregory Meeks of New York said with unified support from the U.S. Congress, “Ukraine will win.” The bill is the latest from Congress, which is steadily churning out resolutions and resources to counter Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine and help the country and its President Volodymyr Zelenskyy fight back. The Biden administration announced Thursday it will seek another $30 billion from Congress in military and humanitarian aid, on top of the nearly $14 billion Congress approved last month to help Ukraine fight the war.

Months in the making, the bipartisan bill was first introduced in January as part of the U.S.'s posture of deterrence to warn off Mr. Putin's aggression towards Ukraine.

The measure would update the 1941 legislation Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law to help allies fight Nazi Germany. At the time, the then-U.S. president ushered the Lend-Lease Act through Congress, responding to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's appeal for aid, even as America initially remained neutral in the war, according to the U.S. National Archives.

Mr. Biden is expected to sign the bill into law, giving the administration greater leeway to send military equipment to Ukraine and neighboring allies in Eastern Europe.

“It is a real moment in history that we are back on this House floor supporting lend-lease,” said Rep. French Hill, R-Ark.

The congressman said he hoped the “Churchillian idea” would end delays in shipping aid to Ukraine, much the way the original law sped help to Britain fighting Adolf Hitler's Germany in World War II.

“Today we find ourselves in a very similar situation with Mr. Putin systematically bombing and shelling the peaceful villages and cities of Ukraine,” he said.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi also gave nod to the moment, saying the war is a battle between democracy and autocracy, and echoed Roosevelt's call on Americans to provide the fuel to keep light of democracy burning.

“Our task today remains the same,” she said. “The Ukrainian people are making the fight for all of us.” Mr. Zelenskyy has repeatedly pleaded for more military equipment from the U.S. and allies, on top of the Stinger and Javelin missile systems, lethal drones and other weaponry that has already been flowing to the region.

The Ukrainian military and its citizens are engaged in a brutal street-level fight to save their country, as Russia bombards cities and villages in Mr. Putin's quest to take control of the nation and make it part of Russia.

Lawmakers in both parties, Republicans and Democrats, have argued that the U.S. is not moving swiftly enough to help the Ukrainians. Countless members of Congress have trekked to the region to see first-hand the devastation, meet with their counterparts in Ukraine and do what they can to offer help with resettling the flood of more than 5 million refugees.

While the updated legislation had backing from both parties in the House and Senate, it stalled in Congress along with other Ukraine-focused bills. Democratic lawmakers tended to defer to the president of their party to take the lead on foreign policy, especially as Mr. Biden worked to build support from allies abroad.


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Printable version | Aug 8, 2022 6:34:47 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-house-passes-military-lend-lease-bill-to-speed-ukraine-aid/article65366050.ece