The House of Representatives could vote as soon as Tuesday afternoon on an additional $40 billion in aid to the Ukraine.
But lawmakers split off $10 billion in funding for the covid pandemic in order to rush through money for the war-torn country, which is entering its second month of fighting off Russia’s invasion.
Lawmakers increased President Joe Biden’s original $33 billion request, adding $3.4 billion in military aid and $3.4 billion in humanitarian assistance, for the Ukrainians. The Senate could take up the package next week.
While the Ukraine aid is expected to sail through, there is no clear outlook for the covid funds that Democrats had originally tied to the foreign aid.
Biden signed off on the deal that dropped covid funding.
‘Previously, I had recommended that Congress take overdue action on much needed funding for COVID treatments, vaccines and tests, as part of the Ukraine Supplemental bill,’ Biden said in a statement on Monday.
‘However, I have been informed by Congressional leaders in both parties that such an addition would slow down action on the urgently needed Ukrainian aid — a view expressed strongly by several Congressional Republicans,’ he noted.
House of Representatives could vote as soon as Tuesday afternoon on an additional $40 billion in aid to the Ukraine – President Joe Biden signed off on separating covid funding from the foreign aid package
Senate Republicans wanted to tie to covid funding a vote that would keep Title 42, the public health order being used to turn away migrants at the Southern border, in effect. The CDC announced it will expire on May 23. States are also suing to stop the Trump-era order from being rescinded.
Some Democrats have expressed concern about rescinding Title 42 without a plan in place to combat the expected surge in migrants.
Republicans have made it clear they will not vote for covid funding without a Title 42 vote. Democrats need at least 10 Republicans to vote with to advance the legislation.
Some Senate Democrats said they were disappointed the covid aid would be considered separately.
‘It would have been so much better for us to protect the United States as well as worked to protect Ukraine,’ No. 2 Senate Democrat Dick Durbin told reporters.
Asked if separating Ukraine aid hurts prospects for covid aid, Durbin said, ‘It doesn’t help. Putting those two together would have been a positive.’
In his statement, Biden called on Congress to move quickly approve more covid funding.
‘Without timely COVID funding, more Americans will die needlessly,’ he said.
‘We will lose our place in line for America to order new COVID treatments and vaccines for the fall, including next-generation vaccines under development, and be unable to maintain our supply of COVID tests.’
The money would be used for booster shots, theraputics and testing.
A shopping mall is destroyed as a result of rocket strikes launched by Russian troops in Odesa in Southern Ukraine
A car destroyed by Russian attacks is seen in the middle of a road in the northern region of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine
The administration has warned the US could potentially see 100 million Covid-19 infections this fall and winter.
Officials told CNN this estimate is based on an underlying assumption of no additional resources or extra mitigation measures being taken, including new Covid-19 funding from Congress, or dramatic new variants.
Separately, Biden on Monday signed legislation that revives the ‘Lend-Lease Act,’ a World War Two-era program that helped defeat Hitler’s Germany by allowing Washington to lend or lease military equipment to U.S. allies more quickly.
In this case, it will help those affected by Russia’s invasion, such as Poland and other eastern European countries as well as Ukraine.