House Approves $61 Billion Ukraine Aid Package

A win for the good guys and a loss for Trump and Putin.

WSJ‘s Daniel Michaels and James Marson (“U.S. Aid Is a Lifeline for Ukraine’s Struggle to Hold Off Defeat“):

The House vote to approve $60 billion in funding for Ukraine comes at a desperate moment for the country’s beleaguered defenders and holds the prospect of helping them stave off a Russian onslaught at the last possible moment.

If approved by the Senate, as is widely expected, and then signed into law by President Biden as soon as Tuesday, the bill will unleash a flood of American military equipment that U.S. forces have positioned for quick deployment.

But given Ukraine’s dire battlefield position and advances Moscow’s forces have made over recent months—during which they reinforced the roughly 20% of Ukrainian territory they held—the new help is unlikely to dramatically reverse Kyiv’s fortunes.

Ukraine faces severe manpower shortages on the front, and President Volodymyr Zelensky said this month that Russian troops are firing 10 artillery shells for every one that his soldiers fire.

At most it has the potential to help Ukraine blunt Russia’s relentless attacks and retain territory, potentially letting Kyiv pin down Russian forces until European allies can deliver more assistance next year.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said after the House vote that the move “will further enrich the United States of America and further ruin Ukraine, causing more Ukrainians to die due to the fault of the Kyiv regime,” according to Russian state news agency TASS.

CIA Director William Burns said on Thursday that without the new U.S. aid, “There is a very real risk that the Ukrainians could lose on the battlefield by the end of 2024,” or at least put Russian President Vladimir Putin in a position to dictate terms of a political settlement.

With the aid, he said, “the Ukrainians are entirely capable of holding their own” on the ground this year while continuing to hit Russian air and naval forces.

Fresh U.S. arms deliveries “should have a noticeable impact on the battlefield,” said Assistant Secretary of Defense Celeste Wallander in an interview. “We can act quickly,” she said.


Zelensky on Friday told a videoconference of defense ministers from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which had convened at his request, that his country urgently needs at least seven Patriot air-defense systems and interceptors or comparable equipment, as well as artillery shells, small-arms ammunition and other battlefield basics. “This year we can’t wait for decisions to be made,” he implored them.

After the meeting, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said members had pledged to supply new air-defense systems and that the Czech Republic has delivered roughly 500,000 artillery shells as part of a program it has organized to buy up to one million shells for Kyiv. Ukraine’s Western allies supplying arms, known as the Ramstein group, plan later this month to hold a virtual meeting with the aim of expanding commitments.

Resupplying Kyiv’s forces is “already urgent,” Wallander said, citing recent congressional testimony by Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the top U.S. military officer in Europe, on the dire state of Ukrainian defenses.

A much-needed lifeline.

BBC‘s James Waterhouse (“Ukraine aid package could help Kyiv slow Russia’s advance“):

President Volodymyr Zelensky has expressed his gratitude to the US House of Representatives for approving a new $61bn (£49bn) package of military assistance for Ukraine after months of delays. He said the aid could save thousands of lives.

While it’s not uncommon for a country’s future to be decided by politicians, a nation’s very existence hinging on a vote 5,000 miles away is as extraordinary as it sounds.

For Ukraine, the six-month wait for this military package has been as costly as it has been frustrating.

Dwindling ammunition has cost it lives and territory.

In this period of rare boosts for Kyiv, this was a biggie – the arrival of American weaponry will allow its beleaguered troops to do more than hang on. But it’s no silver bullet.

So, what is the package going to do?

It is likely to include air defence systems, mid to long-range missiles and artillery shells.

Ukraine’s recent lack of them has led to Russian forces capturing hundreds more square kilometres of territory.

When the aid arrives, Ukraine can potentially challenge Russia’s air superiority, frustrate their supply lines and slow advancing troops.

Whether this is too little, too late remains to be seen. The war certainly seems to have reached a standoff, with a lot of killing achieving very little in terms of territorial gain for either side. So long as Ukrainians are willing to fight to oust Russian troops from their land, though, it’s in our interest to keep enabling them to do so.

That Speaker Johnson came around to letting this come up for a vote, passing with a whole lot of help from Democrats, is an unalloyed good. WaPo (“The evolution of Mike Johnson on Ukraine“) explains it this way:

The move marks a major victory and dramatic turnabout for the speaker who is trying to gain control of a bitterly divided Republican conference. The far-right is fiercely against Ukraine aid — 112 Republicans, just over half of the conference, opposed it on the House floor Saturday and he had to rely on unanimous Democratic backing — and Johnson’s decision to greenlight a floor vote could come at great political cost. He could very well lose his job as speaker over it.

It is also a major rebuke to former president Donald Trump, who publicly backed Johnson at a recent Mar-a-Lago event but has long criticized Ukraine while repeatedly sympathizing with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Johnson appears fully aware of the consequences of his decision to send money to Ukraine in its grinding war against Russia. He made the difficult decision despite threats from an angry and vocal minority of hard-right Republicans — ironically, the ones who helped catapult him into power — who are using their conservative bully pulpit to challenge Johnson and threaten his job.

He seems to have accepted his fate.

“Look, history judges us for what we do,” said an emotional Johnson, holding back tears and with a quivering lip at a news conference this week in response to a question from The Washington Post. “This is a critical time right now, critical time in the world stage. I could make a selfish decision and do something that’s different, but I’m doing here what I believe to be the right thing.”

Johnson’s son will be headed to the U.S. Naval Academy in the fall. “To put it bluntly, I would rather send bullets to Ukraine, than American boys,” he said. “This is a live-fire exercise for me and for so many American families.”

The speaker’s torturous path to embracing Ukraine aid is the result of many factors: high-level intelligence briefings as a House leader; his faith; the counsel of three committee chairs named Mike; and a realization the GOP would never unite on Ukraine.

Assuming he survives this—and it looks like he will—it may start to break the stranglehold Trump and the MAGA faction have over the party. David Frum (“Trump Deflates“) is a bit more optimistic on that front than I am.

For nine years, Trump has dominated the Republican Party. Senators might have loathed him, governors might have despised him, donors might have ridiculed him, college-educated Republican voters might have turned against him—but LOL, nothing mattered. Enough of the Republican base supported him. Everybody else either fell in line, retired from politics, or quit the party.


On aid to Ukraine, Trump got his way for 16 months. When Democrats held the majority in the House of Representatives in 2022, they approved four separate aid requests for Ukraine, totaling $74 billion. As soon as Trump’s party took control of the House, in January 2023, the aid stopped. Every Republican officeholder understood: Those who wished to show loyalty to Trump must side against Ukraine.


Trump’s party in Congress has rebelled against him—and not on a personal payoff to some oddball Trump loyalist, but on one of Trump’s most cherished issues, his siding with Russia against Ukraine.


The Ukraine vote gives the most significant clue. Here is the issue on which traditional Republican belief in U.S. global leadership clashes most directly with Trump’s peculiar and sinister enthusiasm for Vladimir Putin’s Russia. And on this issue, the traditional Republicans have now won and Trump’s peculiar enthusiasm got beat.

To make an avalanche takes more than one tumbling rock. Still, the pro-Ukraine, anti-Trump vote in the House is a very, very big rock. On something that mattered intensely to him—that had become a badge of pro-Trump identity—Trump’s own party worked with Democrats in the House and Senate to hand him a stinging defeat. This example could become contagious.

The fact that 112 Republicans voted against the bill—and, of course, the fact that he is again the GOP nominee for President—means that Trump is still the dominant force in the party. But 101 dared vote against him on a matter of principle. That’s a hopeful sign.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. just nutha says:

    More hopeful than I would have given Republicans credit for ( not a high bar to jump).

  2. Sleeping Dog says:

    Chalk this up to wishful thinking if you want, maybe the professional R pols that populate congress and aren’t into the furthest right districts have come to the belief that trump will lose in Nov.

    Now Ukraine has a chance.

  3. CSK says:

    Only $61? Jeez, that’s chintzy.

  4. ptfe says:

    @CSK: Cheaper than a concert these days.

  5. Franklin says:

    @CSK: Bet we could double it with a GoFundMe.

  6. Thomm says:

    It’s amazing what can happen when one isn’t beholden to a rule advanced and named after a child molester.

  7. JKB says:

    CIA Director William Burns said on Thursday that without the new U.S. aid, “There is a very real risk that the Ukrainians could lose on the battlefield by the end of 2024,”

    It is interesting how no one in the US Intel/FP community will tell the truth about why Ukraine is important. It is because it is “on the way” to what is important to the Russians (not just Putin) and that is the Baltics and Poland (at least to the Vistula). And to get those, means open combat with NATO so a degraded Russian army is good but also a risk of Russia going to nukes when pushed back by NATO.

    Fifty+ former intel/FB/NatSec leaders rushed to sign on to the Hunter Biden laptop disinformation letter in 2020 but none will speak about this in the open. Hmmm?

    Could it be that the fact that Biden tried to surrender Ukraine to Putin immediately will be remembered? Biden called Zelensky to urge him to head for the airport, but instead he stayed and the Ukrainians fought. And the misinformation the US intel/FP “experts” had promoted about he capabilities of the Russian army was exposed. Just like their failure to see the fall of the Soviet Union coming with projections of the Soviet economy overtaking the US just days before the collapse.

    I support the funding, but find it interesting none of the “leaders” will speak about why it is important.

  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    Dude. You’re an ignoramus as well as a liar.

    Ukraine is on the way to the Baltics and Poland? Buy a map. Belarus – a Putin client state – has a border with with Poland and Lithuania. For Ukraine to matter to the Baltics would mean going through Belarus which is, to put it mildly, a very long detour. Also, the path to Poland goes right through Belarus. Right? Map.

    Second, it was Trump who sold out Ukraine. First he tried to blackmail them into providing lies to use against Biden. Since then he’s tried to do Putin’s bidding by handing over Ukraine.

    The man you worship is a rapist, a fraud, a conman, and a traitor. Rather than trying to display your culty man-crush here, why not go buy some golden sneakers and a fucking Bible.

    ETA: Oh, and it seems Orange Jesus stinks. Physically stinks. As in farting and sharting as he falls asleep in court.

  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    Johnson’s son will be headed to the U.S. Naval Academy in the fall.


    “Dad, I can’t go to Annapolis as the son of the man who kowtowed to Vladimir Putin.”

  10. CSK says:

    @ptfe: @Franklin:

    I see the headline’s been fixed.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    Sometimes I read comments from regulars who I typically ignore. I do it for various reasons but today it was because Trump has just suffered a defeat WRT the Ukraine aid package that is absolutely humiliating for him. (On the upside that defeat was essential for the good of America, our allies, and the world in general.) Despite his public and private threats of retribution, almost half of the Republicans, over 100, voted in favor. The reason it was humiliating is not simply because he lost, but that these weak and spineless lickspittles put their finger to the wind and said, “the wind, she ain’t a’blowin’ in Trump’s direction”.

    A few hours before the vote, Trump realized he was going to lose and suddenly we have always been at war with EastAsia, er, he has always been in favor of aid. So I was curious as to how the right wing propagandists were spinning this. I knew this arm wrenching 180 wouldn’t cause any cognitive dissonance because, well, “cognitive”, but I have to admit I was startled at the audacity. Not only was Trump always in favor of the aid, but Biden has been looking to sell the Ukrainians out!

  12. DK says:


    I see the headline’s been fixed.

    I still see $61 Million. I believe the aid approved is $61 Billion.

    Embarrassing and dangerous it took so long. But better late than never, as they say, I suppose.

  13. DK says:


    I support the funding

    Many in our country are weak, angry losers — always scapegoating minorities, immigrants, and elitists (and the media, the deep state, wokeness etc) for their failures and general unhappiness in life. Trump’s depravity is their catharsis, the one thing giving their sad lives meaning. So they’re now following him in pretending to support Ukraine.

    It’s only because losing this dramatic legislative battle proved a broad majority reject MAGA’s disgusting lies about Ukraine and Zelensky. MAGA’s treasonous assist to Putin’s imperialist warmongering was predicated on a) new right traitors being brainwashed by Russian propaganda and b) conservatives’ childish habit of reflexively opposing anything Democrats support, no matter the merit.

    Your reversal today mirrors why Republicans in Alabama, Arizona and elsewhere are backtracking extreme abortion bans — Republicans went too far.

    But they cannot unring the bell. History never forgave Chamberlain even after he changed course on his Hitler appeasement. Americans will not forget that Trump Republicans spent the last 16 months, all of 2022 and into 2023, helping Hitler-wannabe Putin try to destroy Western democracy. We know who you are.

    but find it interesting none of the “leaders” will speak about why it is important.

    False. Biden, Pelosi, Jeffries, McConnell, Schumer and now Mike Johnson have made this case. They need to speak louder, yes. But those who care about American values, the importance of Ukraine aid is self-evident. MAGA’s only value is being a bootlicking slave to rapist Putin-puppet Trump. That’s why you can’t hear and haven’t noticed.

  14. Michael Reynolds says:


    Trump’s depravity is their catharsis

    Ooooh, I like that. I’ll probably steal it.

  15. DK says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Thieve to your heart’s content, good sir!

  16. dazedandconfused says:


    The silver lining is Marge Greene, Massie, Gaetz, et al suddenly finding themselves in strident, vociferous opposition to Trump. A cognitive dissonance which even the bats in those belfies will have to struggle to ignore.

  17. Andy says:

    Better late than never, I suppose.

    I am generally not a hater, I tend to be a live-and-let-live kind of guy, but JFC do I want to punch MTG in the fucking throat.

    Anyway, from a quick read, this should allow Ukraine to get through this year. I think Ukraine probably understands there will be nothing else until after the elections. Depending on how the election goes, this may be it from the US, and they’ll have to rely on Europe from here on out.

    That said, it’s going to be a rough year. Ukraine is very short on manpower, and even with this injection, Russia will still have artillery, drone, manpower, and other advantages. Fortunately, this war favors defense, and if Ukraine can finish getting some defensive lines built, they can stop the Russians, inflict a lot of losses, and survive.

  18. Jay L Gischer says:

    @JKB: “On the way” is one of those phrases, but yes, the thing NATO is concerned about is a turn to Poland and the Baltics. Absolutely.

    Thing is, I’ve heard lots of people talking about it. You haven’t? That’s odd…

  19. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Andy: The voice on Ukraine I trust most is an Aussie analyst who goes by the pseudonym of “Perun” and publishes hour long power point presentation on Ukraine and other defense issues.

    Russia is spending manpower and equipment at about three times the rate of Ukraine. They cannot sustain this forever, they can manage about a year. So keeping Ukraine going for two years will lead to a changed situation. I don’t expect a “collapse”, but the situation will be different. Passage of this bill is a very big positive step.

    And I’d recommend some of Perun’s briefings. Evaluate for yourself whether they are any good.