It is exceedingly rare these days for members of the Senate to unanimously agree on anything, but that happened Wednesday with respect to providing aid to Ukraine to help defend against the ongoing Russian invasion of its sovereign territory.
By way of a simple voice vote with no noted objections, the Senate agreed to resurrect the World War II-era “lend-lease program” to help arm and supply Ukraine with the weapons and equipment necessary to effectively defend themselves, Fox News reported.
The lend-lease program had been utilized to great effect in the early years of that global conflict as a way to support allies like the British and Russians as they fought against Nazi Germany before the entry of the United States into that war.
S. 3522, better known as the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022, was initially filed in January by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and was assigned to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
That bill, which garnered 21 additional cosponsors that included both Democrats and Republicans, was unanimously discharged by the committee Wednesday and then brought to the floor where it was likewise passed unanimously as an amendment with a voice vote.
It now moves to the House where an identical companion bill, H.R. 6753, is awaiting consideration in the House Foreign Affairs Committee. That bill will likely be passed soon as well, and the legislation will then be sent to the White House for President Joe Biden to sign into law.
Military aid with some conditions
What this Ukrainian Lend-Lease Act will do is authorize the U.S. government to bypass or waive certain normal requirements to lend or lease defensive weapons and equipment to Ukraine or any other Eastern European nations threatened by Russian aggression to help protect the civilian populations of those countries.
Those waivers will remain in effect until the conflict within Ukraine’s borders has been determined to be concluded as well as whenever Russian forces return to the status quo of their positions away from the shared border with Ukraine as of March 2021, before when the pre-invasion build-up began.
The bill further specifies that once signed into law, the president has no more than 60 days to “establish expedited procedures” for the swift provision of aid to Ukraine. It also notes that Ukraine will, at some point, be required to either return or provide reimbursement payments for the defense articles leased or loaned to it.
Ukrainians thankful for the show of support
In response to the Senate’s passage of the bill, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba expressed his gratitude for the unanimous and bipartisan display of support for his embattled country.
“Grateful to the U.S. Senate for passing the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act. Important first step towards a lend-lease program to expedite the delivery of military equipment to Ukraine. Looking forward to its swift passage in the House and signing by the U.S. President,” Kuleba tweeted.
Assuming the House does move quickly to pass this measure and Biden wastes no time signing it into law, this move will substantially bolster the ability of the U.S. to provide desperately needed aid to Ukraine and others without formally declaring war and entering into the conflict itself, something Biden has repeatedly sworn not to do and which the American public has little appetite for.