WALTHAM, Mass. – The House of Representatives on April 28 passed legislation to establish a lend-lease program that would make it easier for the U.S. to send more military aid to Ukraine. The bill is now headed to the White House, where President Joe Biden is expected to sign the measure into law.
The bill, known as the Ukrainian Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act, passed the House by a vote of 417-10. All 10 no votes came from Republicans.
The legislation passed the Senate by a unanimous voice vote on April 6. It was first introduced by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) in January.
The legislation seeks to streamline the power Mr. Biden already has under the Arms Export Control Act to lend and lease military equipment to Ukraine, which has been defending itself in a war that has now largely shifted to the south and east of Ukraine, where Russia hopes to establish a land corridor along the Black Sea coast to Odesa, and perhaps even to the breakaway Moldovan region of Transdniester.
While Ukrainian forces have successfully repelled the Russian military from Kyiv and other major cities, the fight in the east is expected to favor the Russians.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly asked the West for more weapons and ammunition. If signed into law by Mr. Biden, the bill would speed the delivery of those weapons into the country by allowing the shipments to legally bypass export regulations that can slow the process down.
“Ukrainian forces have demonstrated unbelievable strength and bravery, and we must again serve as the arsenal of democracy and ensure they have the full range of resources necessary to defend their sovereignty,” Mr. Cornyn said in a statement after the House passed the measure.
“This legislation will be a game-changer for Ukraine, and I’m grateful to my House colleagues for recognizing its importance and quickly sending it to the president’s desk,” Mr. Cornyn said.
The United States last used the lend-lease program during World War II when it provided assistance to allied countries in their fight against Nazi Germany. Much of that support went to the Soviet Union and Great Britain.