Congress approves bill authorizing arms lending to Ukraine

WASHINGTON — The House overwhelmingly passed legislation on Thursday that would allow President Biden to use a World War II law to quick...


WASHINGTON — The House overwhelmingly passed legislation on Thursday that would allow President Biden to use a World War II law to quickly provide arms to Ukraine on loan, sending the measure to Mr. Biden’s office a few hours after urging Congress to approve tens of billions of dollars in additional emergency aid for Kyiv.

The 417-10 vote to invoke an extraordinary, eight-decade-old law created to combat Hitler reflected a growing bipartisan sense of urgency in Congress to bolster Ukraine’s military as it prepares for an ugly artillery war and extended in the south. and east of the country. The Senate passed the law unanimously this month.

“The passage of this act allowed Britain and Winston Churchill to continue to fight and survive fascist Nazi bombardment until the United States could go to war,” Rep. Jamie said. Raskin, Democrat of Maryland. “President Zelensky said Ukraine needed weapons to sustain itself, and President Biden answered that call.”

The legislation invokes the Lend-Lease Act of 1941, originally proposed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to help arm British forces fighting Germany. The legislation authorized the president to lease or loan military equipment to any foreign government “whose defense the president deems vital to the defense of the United States.”

Roosevelt initially faced skepticism from isolationist members of Congress who feared the bill would plunge the United States more directly into the conflict, and he worked feverishly to win public support for the measure.

“And so our country is going to be what our people have proclaimed it should be – the arsenal of democracy,” Roosevelt said after signing the bill into law. By the end of the war, the United States had provided nearly $50 billion in lend-lease aid to allied nations, according to the Library of Congress.

Members of Mr. Biden’s administration have given few clues about how aggressively they might seek to use the law. John F. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, objected on Wednesday when asked about the administration’s view on the measure, saying it “would not preempt pending legislation.” .

Still, it could become an important tool for the White House as the United States seeks to mobilize long-term military support for Ukraine, even as Western arms flows pour into the country – including equipment. heavy such as howitzers and armed drones. – increase.

This would allow the United States to deliver weapons to Ukraine more quickly by removing a variety of procedural hurdles. And it would essentially allow the Biden administration to donate vast slices of weapons to Kyiv, at a time when Mr. Biden said he had nearly exhausted emergency military funding approved by Congress in March.

“The way we approach a threat to the sovereignty of a democracy sends a message about how we will act on others, and adversaries like China are watching us,” said Sen. John Cornyn, Republican of Texas and l one of the original sponsors of the bill. “If we believe America stands for freedom and democracy, we must provide Ukraine with the weapons necessary to protect its citizens.”

Mr. Biden on Thursday asked Congress for $33 billion additional military, economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The funding, more than double the amount of the $13.6 billion package passed by Congress last month, is expected to last at least five months, according to an administration official who detailed the package on condition of anonymity before its official publication.

About half of this figure should finance new military assistance.

Emily Cochrane contributed report.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Congress approves bill authorizing arms lending to Ukraine
Congress approves bill authorizing arms lending to Ukraine
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