Abridged version of a report by Sara Sirota in The Intercept.
The House of Representatives is looking to skip markup and hold a floor vote as soon as next week.
Democrats in the House of Representatives are planning to expedite a massive bill that would dramatically increase U.S. security assistance to Ukraine and lay the groundwork for substantial new sanctions on Russia – hastening a war-friendly posture without opportunity for dissent as concerns over a military invasion abound.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told members on a caucus call Tuesday that she’s looking to skip marking up the bill and move it straight to the House floor, setting up the possibility of a vote as soon as early next week, two congressional sources told The Intercept….
“This is how the space for nonmilitary options gets slowly closed off in Washington, without any real debate,” one of the sources, a senior Democratic aide, told The Intercept.
Last week, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., introduced the legislation, which has 13 co-sponsors, as a companion measure to the Senate’s Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act proposed earlier this month. The Senate bill, introduced by Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez, D-N.J., boasts 41 Democratic co-sponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; and progressives Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.
The legislation would send $500 million from the Foreign Military Financing program to Ukraine for 2022. That amount would have made Ukraine the third-largest recipient of funding from the State Department’s FMF account in 2020, surpassed only by $3.3 billion to Israel and $1.3 billion to Egypt. (That year, the FMF program gave Ukraine $248 million.)
The legislation would also give Ukraine priority for excess defense equipment transfer and funds to counter Russian disinformation through programs like Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. It would further aim to bolster Ukraine’s cyber defense and direct the president to consider imposing sanctions on Russia in the event of a cyber attack on Ukraine.
The Democrats’ effort to accelerate the bill comes days after a group of senators met with Ukrainian leaders in the country’s capital, Kyiv, to extend U.S. support for the country’s sovereignty. Despite the show of Democratic and Republican unity during the trip, no Republicans have co-sponsored Meeks’ or Menendez’s bills. Senate Democrats also have not publicly indicated the timeline on which they would like to vote on their legislation.