US House approves $61bn in military aid for Ukraine

World 22:45 20.04.2024

After months of stalling, the US House of Representatives finally approved more than $61bn worth of military assistance to help Ukraine in its desperate defense against Russia.

The bipartisan vote saw 210 Democrats and 101 Republicans join to support Ukraine, with 112 Republicans – a majority of the GOP members – voting against. It came after the Republican speaker, Mike Johnson, forced a series of bills onto the floor in the face of fierce resistance within his own Republican party, many of whom oppose spending more on Ukraine’s defense.

Voting began hours ahead of schedule in an extraordinary Saturday session that delayed the House’s planned recess. The House erupted into applause when the Ukraine bill passed, with the chair, Marc Molinaro of New York, admonishing members not to wave Ukrainian flags.

In a powerful effort to sum up the stakes before the vote, the former Democratic speaker, Nancy Pelosi, made a stridently graphic appeal: “I hope our colleagues will choose democracy and decency rather than autocracy and evil because I fear if you choose the Putin route, you will have blood on your hands, blood of the children, blood of their mothers raped in front of their parents, raped in front of their children,” she said.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukraine’s president, recently warned that his country “will lose the war” without US assistance, as its military has struggled with ammunition and air defense shortages and Russia has pressed a growing advantage in firepower as Congress prevaricated.

Immediately after the bill passed, ZelenskIy released a statement expressing his gratitude to both parties “and personally Speaker Mike Johnson for the decision that keeps history on the right track”.

“Democracy and freedom will always have global significance and will never fail as long as America helps to protect it,” he said. “The vital US aid bill passed today by the House will keep the war from expanding, save thousands and thousands of lives, and help both of our nations to become stronger. Just peace and security can only be attained through strength. We hope that bills will be supported in the Senate and sent to President Biden’s desk. Thank you, America!”

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