Lawmakers Want House To Stay In Session To Pass Aid To Ukraine

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Lawmakers are calling on House leadership to keep members in session this week to take action on emergency funding legislation to provide military aid and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

Reps. August Pfluger (R-Texas), Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.), and J. Luis Correa (D-Calif.) made the request in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Wednesday. The House was scheduled to leave for the weekend on Thursday.

“Although we are heartbroken by these images, we have watched the Ukrainian people stand resiliently against this act of aggression. These people are taking a stand for freedom, boldly demonstrating that freedom is worth fighting for,” they wrote. “Members of this body must show the world that this nation will always stand firmly with our allies and strategic partners in their time of need.”

“For these reasons, we implore you to keep the House in session so that this body can debate and vote as expeditiously as possible on a standalone supplemental package that will provide vital military aid and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine,” they continued. “By working together to craft this standalone package, we can send a clear message to the world that our nation will not tolerate tyranny in any form.”

As a practical matter, the timing of the vote on the new Ukraine aid is largely inconsequential. The Biden administration is already sending aid in all forms to Ukraine — military and humanitarian — and the additional allocations will simply go to backfill those coffers.

“The president is already moving through his executive authority to send weapons and to send humanitarian aid,” said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “A lot of this money is going to be backfilling what we’ve already done, and then there will be more going forward.”

Pelosi offered another reason that remaining in session this weekend wouldn’t expedite the process: the legislation, she said, will require “four or five days” to draft, once a deal is reached.

“And then we take it up at the beginning of next week,” she told reporters Wednesday.

Still, the letter sends a political message that lawmakers are fighting hard to help Ukraine defend itself, even as Russian forces sit north of Kyiv, apparently poised to pounce on the Ukrainian capital.

The letter comes as the White House has also called on Congress to authorize $10 billion in humanitarian, economic, and security assistance for Ukraine and allies in central Europe in response to Russia’s invasion.

Of those funds, $4.8 billion would go toward the Pentagon for military assistance, and $5 billion would be allocated to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to aid to Ukraine and other allies in central Europe.