Senate approves $1.5 trillion spending bill that includes aid for Ukraine

Congressional Democrats and Republicans took the final step Thursday night to approve roughly $14 billion in humanitarian, military and economic assistance to Ukraine, part of a sweeping spending package that funds the federal government and staves off a looming shutdown that would have occurred at the end of the week.

The overwhelmingly bipartisan Senate vote now sends the measure to President Biden for his signature, capping off a fierce, urgent push in the nation’s capital to respond to the geopolitical unrest roiling Europe as a result of Russia’s invasion.

The aid includes money to shore up Ukraine and its defenses, including investments meant to help protect against cyberattacks and bolster regional allies against any further Kremlin-led aggression. It also features new support for federal programs that allow the U.S. government to respond to food insecurity, assist in refugee resettlement and address other humanitarian needs.

As talks produce no agreement, Russia escalates its attacks.

The emergency package further empowers Washington to enforce the significant, crippling sanctions it has levied on Russia and its political elite in recent weeks. The money underscores a broader global strategy to maximize economic pressure on the country and its leader, President Vladimir Putin, in a bid to force him to rethink the war.

“This is an area where the American people overwhelmingly support the people of Ukraine,” said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in a speech earlier Thursday. “This is not a Democratic and a Republican issue. This is a human rights issue.”

The total $13.6 billion in assistance arrives days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered an emotional plea to U.S. lawmakers, urging them to act swiftly and decisively to help his war-torn country. The U.S. government has not provided the fuller range of military support that Zelensky seeks, as Washington scrambles to steer clear of a direct confrontation with a fellow nuclear superpower. But the aid that lawmakers did approve still amounts to a significant sum, which the Biden administration previously said it could look to augment further if the conflict continues to worsen.

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