US Senate approves massive spending bill with $13.6 billion aid for Ukraine

Washington, Mar 10 (EFE).- The United States Senate approved a massive $1.5 trillion spending package Thursday that includes $13.6 billion in aid for Ukraine and prevents a federal government shutdown.

The Senate passed the funding bill in a 68-31 vote, a day after it was approved by the Lower House.

It will now head to US President Joe Biden for his signature to become law.

Biden is expected to sign the measure before midnight on Friday, when funds for the federal government run out.

The spending package includes funding for government agencies to continue operating until Sep. 30.

The Republicans and Democrats have united around Ukraine amid the war started by Russia, so the bill includes $13.6 billion in humanitarian and military aid for Ukraine and Eastern Europe, a figure higher than the $10 billion requested by the White House last week.

“With these resources, we will be able to deliver historic support for the Ukrainian people as they defend their country and democracy,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement following the approval of the measure.

Almost half of the funds for Ukraine, $6.5 billion, will go to the Department of Defense to maintain its military operations in NATO countries in Eastern Europe, as well as to send equipment to Ukraine, according to a draft made public by the House Committee on Appropriations.

An additional $25 million will go towards combating disinformation and $120 million will go to the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to support activists and independent media.

The spending bill includes $782 billion for defense programs, a 5.6 percent increase over the previous year, and another $730 billion for domestic programs.

The measure also includes funds to bring back into force the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) against male violence. For decades, this law served to finance aid programs for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, in addition to giving them a way to seek justice in the courts.

The law was passed in 1994 and was periodically reauthorized in Congress until the conservatives let it expire in 2019.

Also included in the spending package are $400 million for Pell grants, intended for students with low-income backgrounds, and $1 billion for cancer research. EFE


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