The $2.9 billion would go to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to provide security assistance to Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, the Baltics and Eastern flank allies. That money would also be used to fend off Russian cyberattacks, counter disinformation and assist with economic stabilization, as well as provide humanitarian aid, including emergency food and energy assistance.
The administration identified $3.5 billion in funding requirements stemming from the deployment of thousands of troops to Central and Eastern Europe and related measures to reassure NATO allies.
The Pentagon has deployed thousands of troops to Europe this month, including 5,000 troops rushed to Poland. President Joe Biden signed off on a deployment of 7,000 additional troops to Germany on Thursday.
The Biden administration’s request comes as lawmakers from both parties call for a substantial increase in emergency aid to Ukraine, which came under siege this week from Russian forces. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who chairs the spending panel that funds the State Department and foreign operations, predicted earlier Friday that at least $10 billion would be needed amid an impending refugee crisis in eastern Europe.
Lawmakers are also eager to provide additional aid to Ukraine’s military, but new funding is unlikely to significantly impact Ukraine’s fight against the Russian incursion.
The $2.9 billion in humanitarian aid was an emergency request, meaning the funding would be parceled out on top of the regular budget for diplomatic and foreign assistance. But the person familiar with the proposal noted that the larger list of Pentagon needs did not carry that designation.
A final defense funding bill will likely significantly boost Biden’s $715 billion Pentagon budget request, and appropriators could potentially incorporate the $3.5 billion in military needs into the full-year spending bill.
After Russia began bombing Ukraine, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the U.S. and NATO must “redouble our material support” for Ukraine and that the upcoming funding package would “provide an opportunity to lead by example.”
Some lawmakers have pushed for quick action on a supplemental spending package that provides money to cope with what many predict will become a humanitarian crisis in Europe, funnels more military aid to Ukraine as it attempts to beat back the Russian invasion and bolsters U.S. military posture in NATO countries on the alliance’s eastern front.
But top Democrats are angling to tack on a sizable supplemental spending package as a part of a the sweeping funding bill that would bundle together all dozen annual government spending measures. In addition to Ukraine aid, the White House is seeking tens of billions of dollars for pandemic work at home and abroad in the effort to beat back Covid-19.
Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a statement Friday that the U.S. must provide enough resources to aid allies and “assist the innocent people caught in the middle of this needless calamity,” vowing to work closely with the Biden administration and lawmakers in both parties to enact that funding.