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Biden signs Lend-Lease Act to speed weapons delivery to Ukraine

U.S. President Joe Biden signs the Ukraine Lend-Lease Act in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

President Joe Biden signed into law a measure designed to make it easier for the U.S. to send weapons and supplies to Ukraine as the country continues to fight off a Russian invasion that began in February.

“Every day Ukrainians pay with their lives,” Biden said Monday of Russia’s continuing attacks, adding that the legislation he signed at the White House would be another tool to aid the government in Kyiv.

Joe Biden signs the Ukraine Lend-Lease Act next to U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., in the Oval Office of the White House. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

The measure, which borrows its name from a law that ended the U.S. policy of neutrality ahead of World War II and stepped up support to the U.K. and other allies, cuts some red tape but does not include additional funding. Biden has separately asked Congress for $33 billion in aid to Ukraine, including several billion dollars for weapons and security assistance.

“I’m signing a bill that provides another important tool in our effort to support the people of Ukraine,” the president said.

The bill was introduced in the Senate by a bipartisan group including Texas Republican John Cornyn and Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin.

Biden last week promoted the importance of U.S. and allied weapons for Ukraine’s defense with a visit to a Lockheed Martin Corp. plant making Javelin anti-tank missiles, which American and NATO officials say have been instrumental in stopping Russia’s invading armored columns.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the U.S. has been able to deliver weapons into the hands of the Ukrainian government within 72 hours after the president authorized them.

“We have cut through a lot of red tape,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee late last month. “We want to make sure that we continue to drive this as effectively and efficiently as possible.”

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said Monday that funding for the drawdown authority Biden has used to send weapons to Ukraine would run out by the third week of May. He called on Congress to quickly pass the $33 billion supplemental that has been stalled in Congress amid a dispute over immigration and abortion.

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