Congressional Democrats plan to move ahead with an expanded funding package to aid Ukraine. The lawmakers hope to pass the funding quickly to meet ongoing needs as the country battles continued attacks from Russia.
Democrats say they hope to pass nearly $40 billion in additional aid for Ukraine, up from the $33 billion President Biden requested last month. According to multiple congressional sources, the latest package includes $3.4 billion in new funding for food aid and an equal $3.4 billion increase in spending authority for military aid.
In a statement, President Biden said he is dropping his request to combine the Ukraine money with a separate request for additional COVID-19 response funds, so that the Ukraine aid can pass quickly.
"This aid has been critical to Ukraine's success on the battlefield. We cannot allow our shipments of assistance to stop while we await further congressional action," Biden said. "We are approximately ten days from hitting this critical deadline."
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin sent a letter to lawmakers urging them to pass the expanded aid for Ukraine.
Republicans had threatened to block the COVID-19 money because of an unrelated border policy dispute.
There has been wide bipartisan support for Ukraine aid, and leaders hope to pass the latest funding bill in the coming days.
This story first appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.