WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has approved a massive spending bill anchored by $13.6 billion for battered Ukraine and its European allies.
The money covers the U.S. costs of sending troops and weapons to Eastern Europe and equipping allied forces there in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion. There are also funds for humanitarian aid to help refugees and others.
The money is part of a $1.5 trillion bill financing federal agencies for the rest of this year. Before the bill could move forward, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to remove all $15.5 billion from the legislation aimed at reinforcing U.S. efforts against the pandemic.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the COVID-19 spending would be removed from the package after rank-and-file lawmakers objected that it would be paid for, in part, by cutting previously approved pandemic assistance to their states.
"Republicans resisted this deeply needed funding, demanding that every cent requested by the administration be offset, including through state and local funds scheduled to be released this spring," Pelosi said in a letter to her Democratic colleagues.
"Democrats fought to ensure that no localities saw their funding cuts while negotiating that only half the administration's $15 billion request be offset through remaining funds from expired programs," Pelosi said in the statement.
While Pelosi blamed Republicans, CNN reports that some Democrats were also upset with how the offset would impact their states.
“It’s really not fair because some states got the money all at once some states didn’t," Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal said, according to Politico.
Congress has to pass a funding bill by Friday to prevent a government shutdown.