WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed a bill providing Ukraine with $13.6 billion additional military and humanitarian aid as part of a $1.5 trillion measure funding the U.S. government for the year.
The bill, which easily cleared the Senate last week by a 68-31 bipartisan margin, will aid Ukrainian military efforts amid Russia's continued siege on Kyiv and other key cities.
About half of those funds earmarked for Ukraine will go toward arming and equipping Ukraine and paying for the Pentagon's costs for sending U.S. troops to Eastern European nations.
In signing the bill Tuesday, Biden said that the new law would allow the U.S. to "quickly ramp up our response" and provide humanitarian relief from "Putin's war" in Ukraine. He also thanked Congressional leaders for providing the funding and allowing the U.S. to continue to provide a "forceful" response to Russia.
"Today we're showing again that as a country that we can come together...that our democracy can come together and outdo autocracy," Biden said at the signing ceremony Tuesday.
But the White House is warning of dire consequences if Congress doesn't soon pass new funding to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 spending was a casualty of negotiations over the larger government bill. The White House had asked for $22.5 billion for vaccines and treatment, but that was trimmed during talks to $15.6 billion and ultimately dropped altogether as rank-and-file Democrats rebelled against proposed cuts in state aid to pay for the new spending.
According to The Associated Press, White House officials believe that without more funding, the federal government will be unable to pay for uninsured people's COVID-19 treatments. In addition, they warn that they would also need to cut back on the number of monoclonal antibody treatments they send states.
The White House says a lack of funding could also compromise the Biden administration's plans to provide more COVID-19 treatments and vaccine doses to pharmacies.