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3 things to know about the $40 billion Ukraine bill

On May 10, the House passed legislation that would spend $40.1 billion to aid Ukraine in its war against Russia and support refugees displaced by the conflict that has lasted almost three months.

Even before this bill is passed, Ukraine has become the largest recipient of U.S. military aid in the world. Between the start of Russia’s invasion on February 24 and early May, total U.S. military assistance to Ukraine reached $3.8 billion, while total economic and humanitarian aid is billions more.

Here are three things to know about the latest Ukraine bill as the Senate tries to pass it this week:

1) Half of the bill is military aid and replenishing U.S. stocks

The legislation provides $6 billion in new spending authority to aid Ukraine directly. It makes this money available through September 2023 through the Ukraine Security Initiative. This program, run by the Defense Department, has allowed the U.S. to deliver weapons systems, ammunition, drones and other assistance.

Another $9.05 billion is available through September 2023 in part “for replacement of defense articles from the stocks of the Department of Defense,” which will allow the Pentagon to resupply itself with the systems it has given to Ukraine. This funding will also be used for “reimbursement for defense services of the Department of Defense and military education and training, provided to the Government of Ukraine or to foreign countries that have provided support to Ukraine at the request of the United States.”

Millions in new spending is also provided for personnel and equipment in the Army, Navy and other service branches for related expenses. For example, it gives the Army $1.5 billion and gives the Navy $900 million for operational and maintenance expenses to “respond to the situation in Ukraine.”

Hundreds of millions of dollars are also provided to the service branches for R&D and procurement related to Ukraine.

Finally, the bill provides $4 billion for the foreign military financing program, which will allow the U.S. to provide grants and loans for Ukraine to continue to buy equipment and training services.

2) The other half is disaster and economic support

The legislation provides billions in new spending that is aimed at coping with the economic and social upheaval caused by Russia’s invasion.

It provides $4.3 billion for international disaster assistance to “respond to humanitarian needs in Ukraine and in countries impacted by the situation in Ukraine, including the provision of emergency food and shelter…”

It provides $8.8 billion for an economic support fund for Ukraine and countries affected by the war.

It gives $900 million to the Department of Health and Human Services and $350 million to the Department of State to help refugees. State receives another $400 million for narcotics control and law enforcement, which will fund programs aimed at preventing human trafficking and collecting evidence of war crimes.

3) Rand Paul’s speedbump

Last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) created a temporary hurdle to passing the bill by insisting on greater government oversight into how the money is spent. That move drew immediate criticism from Republicans and Democrats and led some to charge that Paul single-handedly blocked the bill.

But while Paul opposes the bill in its current form, he can do little to stop its passage in the coming days. Last week, Paul was able to slow down the bill only because Senate leaders asked for “unanimous consent” to quickly bring the bill to the floor, a shortcut process that can only work if there are no objections. When Paul objected, he prevented the Senate from using that shortcut.

This week, the Senate is expected to use regular Senate procedures to call up the bill and pass it. The Senate will first need 60 votes to bring up the bill for consideration, and few if any senators other than Paul are expected to vote “no.” Sixty votes would also be needed to end debate on the bill and bring it to a final vote, and a simple majority is all that’s needed to pass it into law.

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