The Senate unanimously passed major Lend-Lease legislation making a first step toward reviving a World War II-era program, Politico reports. It will allow President Joe Biden to more efficiently send weapons and other supplies to Ukraine amid Russia’s bloody invasion.
Senators quickly rallied behind the proposal, known as Lend-Lease, as Ukraine’s military proved it could fend off Russian troops who have been shelling Ukrainian cities and towns since late February. The Lend-Lease program created during World War II was seen as a game-changer in the conflict, as it allowed the U.S. to quickly resupply the Allies without time-consuming procedural hurdles.
Lawmakers are resorting to extraordinary tactics last used during the most significant global conflict of the 20th century — yet another sign that the U.S. and its allies in Europe believe Russia’s invasion presents an existential threat to liberal order.
It’s also an indication that the Western world believes Ukraine can now win the fight against the Russian invaders. Congress recently approved nearly $14 billion of military and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine, some of which has already been doled out. On Tuesday, the State Department announced an additional $100 million in funding for Javelin missiles and other materiel, bringing the total security assistance to $1.7 billion since Russia invaded on Feb. 24.
Horrific images emerged from the town of Bucha last weekend showing civilians laying dead in the streets with their hands tied behind their backs, prompting Western leaders to amplify their allegations of war crimes.
In a brief speech on the Senate floor Wednesday night, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the massacres “pure evil,” adding that Russian troops are carrying out a “genocide” in Ukraine.
The Senate-passed law was named “The Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022” would expedite the transfer of critical military equipment and other critical supplies to Ukraine by cutting bureaucratic red tape. It allows for the de facto gifting of equipment, with provisions stipulating that recipient countries would repay the U.S. at a later date.
“As the war in Ukraine unfolds, delivering military aid as quickly as possible is pivotal for Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against Putin’s unprovoked attacks,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, the lead Democratic sponsor of the effort. “The Kremlin is committing horrific assaults throughout the nation on civilian infrastructure and targeting innocent men, women and children”.
After the Senate, the law must be approved by the House of Representatives, and then it must get to the signature of the President of the United States. It is unclear whether the House of Representatives will consider the Senate-passed Lend-Lease Act before both houses leave Washington on Thursday for a previously scheduled two-week recess.