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President Joe Biden signed the $40 billion aid package for Ukraine Saturday night from Seoul, with an aide flying a paper copy of the legislation to the president who was in the air Thursday when it passed the Senate.
While Biden took Air Force One to Asia the day before, the aide flew commercial.
The bill aims to get arms into the hands of the Ukrainian military and resources to its people without interruption.
Prior to heading to a state dinner with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, Biden signed the Ukraine bill and the Access to Baby Formula Act, which gives Americans on WIC, the government’s food assistance program, more flexibility in buying baby formula.
President Joe Biden boarded Air Force One Thursday at the start of a trip to Seoul, Korea, his first trip to Asia as president. He will sign a $40 billion bill to provide support to Ukraine
The president could have signed the legislation upon his return.
He heads to Japan next and then arrives back in Washington Tuesday night.
But the administration has been urging speedy action, with its drawdown authority to provide munitions to Ukraine running down even as it seeks to fend off a continued Russian offensive in its east and south.
Ukrainian leaders raised alarms that the nation would run out of aid by Thursday if Congress did not act.
The bill signing is just the first display of how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is expected to drive Biden’s agenda, even as he seeks to break away to focus on the Asia Pacific region.
‘This is a demonstration of strong leadership and a necessary contribution to our common defense of freedom,’ said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The bill passed the Senate 86-11
Destroyed Russian armoured vehicles cars and trucks are piled together on wasteland on the outskirts of the Bucha war zone on May 19, 2022 in Bucha, Ukraine. The U.S. is providing more artillery and anti-tank weapons to Ukraine
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) was one of 11 Republicans voting against the aid package for Ukraine
‘The president does intend to sign the bill while he’s on the road so he can sign it expeditiously,’ National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters
The announcement came after the Senate passed the aid package on an 86-11 bipartisan vote, with all opponents coming from Republicans.
Sullivan’s statement of appreciation came after Biden thanked leaders of both parties in a White House statement, even as other key administration priorities are languishing.
The military component will bolster Ukraine’s military as the war stretches on into its fourth month.
The measure brings the total U.S. funding of the conflict to $54 million in two months.
Republican objectors complained that there were more pressing problems at home and complained of insufficient oversight.
Senators who voted against $40 million Ukraine aid
Rand Paul, R-Ky.
Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.
John Boozman, R-Ark.
Mike Braun, R-Ind.
Mike Crapo, R-Idaho
Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn.
Josh Hawley, R-Mo.
Mike Lee, R-Utah
Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.
Roger Marshall, R-Kan.
Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala
‘I applaud the Congress for sending a clear bipartisan message to the world that the people of the United States stand together with the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their democracy and freedom,’ Biden said in a statement on the bill. ‘The resources that I requested will allow us to send even more weapons and ammunition to Ukraine, replenish our own stockpile, and support U.S. troops stationed on NATO territory.’
The president also announced that he will bring forth another package of security assistance in the form of artillery, radars and other equipment.
Sen. Rand Paul had defied leaders of both parties and prevented the Senate from quick passage of the bill last week.
Paul had demanded new language be inserted into the bill that would have an inspector general scrutinize the new spending.
Then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki criticized Paul’s move and said the bill ‘already includes millions of dollars to support additional oversight measures, including additional funding for existing inspectors general.’
Other deflectors to Thursday’s vote included Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., John Boozman, R-Ark., Mike Braun, R-Ind., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., Roger Marshall, R-Kan., and Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.
Russia is now more than two months into what was supposed to be a days-long war having lost thousands of troops and vehicles in what amounts to a catastrophe for Putin
Destroyed Russian armoured vehicles cars and trucks are piled together on wasteland on the outskirts of the Bucha war zone on May 19
A Ukrainian policeman checks the wreckage in a heavily damaged sunflower seeds processing plant after a Russian bombing in Velyka Kostromka village, Ukraine, Thursday, May 19
Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, who visited with Zelensky over the weekend, pushed for Republicans to vote for the bill, while predicting it would easily pass.
‘It’s going to be a bipartisan landslide,’ McConnell said Thursday ahead of the vote. ‘Anyone concerned about the cost of supporting a Ukrainian victory should consider the much larger costs should Ukraine lose.’
After the vote, Paul said that he didn’t believe Americans would have supported the aid if they had known what it cost them.
‘Those senators who voted to gift $40 billion to Ukraine argue that it is in our national security interest,’ Paul said on the Senate floor after the vote. ‘I wonder if Americans across our country would agree if they had been shown the costs, if they had been asked to pay for it.’
Paul added: ‘By my calculation, each income taxpayer in our country would need to pay $500 to support this $40 billion, which by some accounts is a down payment and will need to be replenished in about four months.’