Lawmakers on Wednesday unveiled a $13.6 billion Ukraine aid package that took President Joe Biden’s request for weapons and training for Ukrainian forces and put it on steroids. Part of a sweeping $1.5 trillion measure to fund the federal government, the $13.6 billion package would buy $3 billion in new weapons for Ukraine, instead of the $1.5 billion in new weapons included in Biden’s $10 billion request. It’s a win for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who pleaded with U.S. lawmakers in a Zoom call Saturday for more support as his country fights a Russian invasion. “We are all deeply moved — we can’t stay away from the TV and watching what is happening in Ukraine,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said in a statement. “This bill responds to Russia’s unprovoked … invasion of Ukraine with $13.6 billion in emergency assistance to support the people of Ukraine and their neighbors.” With the West unifying behind Ukraine’s fight, the White House’s initial $6.4 billion ask on Feb. 25, the second day of the war, grew with pressure from lawmakers to a $10 billion request on March 3. After lawmakers met virtually with Zelensky on Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday the aid would exceed $12 billion.
The next day, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hailed Schumer for “working in good faith to accommodate my request that the funding bill significantly increase the security assistance drawdown fund available to the president and to backfill our DoD stockpiles that are helping our friends in harm’s way.”