“What I want to make clear to the Congress and the American people is this: the cost of failing to stand up to violent aggression in Europe has always been higher than the cost of standing firm against such attacks,” Biden wrote in a letter to Congress.
The request includes $20.4 billion in military spending, including for continued arms transfers, $8.5 billion in direct financial aid to Ukraine’s government and $3 billion in humanitarian relief after 5 million people fled the country during two months of fighting.
A White House fact sheet said a further $1.2 billion would “support Ukrainians entering the United States, including through the new Uniting for Ukraine program,” a new sponsorship-focused program to streamline the acceptance of up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.
A Biden administration official told reporters on a call that “despite having no boots on the ground, our assistance has made a significant difference on the battlefield, helping the brave citizens of Ukraine to win the battle of Kyiv and to continue to deplete the Russian military.”
The proposed package also would include $500 million for the Department of Agriculture to boost US crop production to offset diminished Russian and Ukrainian exports.
The White House fact sheet says the domestic agricultural aid would “increase U.S. production of food crops to make up for short falls in global food production due to the war in Ukraine by temporarily increasing marketing assistance loan rates for wheat, edible oilseeds including soybeans, and rice to encourage greater supply availability for humanitarian needs or export.”
That proposal “would also provide incentive payments through crop insurance to increase wheat production by encouraging US farmers to double crop wheat.”
Another $270 million would provide food relief to third-world countries that are struggling with shortages.
The Justice Department, meanwhile, would get $67 million for its KleptoCapture Task force “to pursue high value asset seizures of sanctioned individuals related to Russian actions in Ukraine,” the fact sheet said. Any proceeds from seized assets would be “used to remediate the harm caused in Ukraine.”
But the request may prove a tougher sell than the initial tranche due to soaring inflation, which derailed Biden’s domestic agenda, and because Biden is requesting that the funds be combined with a $22.5 billion COVID-19 request. Republicans want the pandemic spending offset by unused funds approved last year, but Democrats disagree— resulting in gridlock.