US House approves $13.6bn in aid for Ukraine

Trillion-dollar deal passed on Wednesday night includes ban on US imports of Russian oil and funds US government through September

The US House of Representatives approved $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine on Wednesday night as part of a $1.5 trillion deal to fund the US government through September. AFP
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The US House of Representatives approved $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine as the country continues to fend off Russia's invasion, along with $1.5 trillion to fund the federal government through September 30.

The House approved the wide-ranging appropriations in bipartisan votes on Wednesday night, sending the legislation to the Senate which aims to act by a midnight Friday deadline when existing US government funds expire.

The aid for Ukraine is intended to help the country bolster its forces as it battles Russian troops and provide humanitarian assistance to citizens.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that the $13.6bn is likely to be just the tip of a much broader aid effort.

"All of us will have to do more" to help Ukraine in coming weeks or months and over the long-term to help it rebuild, Ms Pelosi said, referring to the US and its Nato allies.

Legislation to ban US imports of Russian oil and other energy was also passed, receiving broad support from Democrats and Republicans. President Joe Biden signed an executive order this week banning imports of Russian oil.

Lawmakers abandoned an effort to attach language revoking Russia's permanent normal trade relations status, which would have allowed the US to raise tariffs on Russian imports above levels afforded all members of the World Trade Organisation.

A plan for $15.6bn for the US Covid-19 response was scrapped at the last minute. Democrats hope to revisit the Covid aid next week in separate legislation.

Acting White House budget director Shalanda Young urged the House and Senate to act promptly to send the Ukraine aid and government funding measure to the White House for Mr Biden's signature.

"The bipartisan funding bill is proof that both parties can come together to deliver for the American people and advance critical national priorities," Ms Young said in a statement.

The legislation will also renew and expand the Magnitsky human rights law to ease the way for further US sanctions on Russia.

The omnibus spending plan will boost funding for domestic priorities, including money for infrastructure passed under an earlier bipartisan measure to revamp US roads, bridges and broadband internet.

The plan includes $730bn in nondefence funding and $782bn in defence funding.

"This bipartisan agreement will help us address many of the major challenges we face at home and abroad: from Covid-19, to the vicious and immoral attack on Ukraine, to the need to lower costs for hardworking American families," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement.

It also includes new measures to protect US infrastructure from cyber attacks "by Russia and other bad actors".

The measure will also reauthorise the Violence Against Women Act, Ms Pelosi and Mr Schumer said.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: March 10, 2022, 2:23 PM