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Kaine says Ukraine aid, COVID-19 funding do not have to be combined

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) on Sunday said he does not think COVID-19 funding and aid for Ukraine need to be combined in a single piece of legislation, as Congress considers both priorities for the Biden administration.

President Biden on Thursday asked Congress to authorize $33 billion in aid to support Ukraine, with some funds going towards security assistance, weapons, military aid, humanitarian assistance and food security funding. The ask also comes as the White House is pushing for additional COVID-19 response funding.

An administration official told reporters on Thursday that the administration thinks it “certainly makes sense” that the pandemic funding and Ukraine aid “move together” in legislation. On Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) endorsed that strategy.

While assistance for Ukraine has bipartisan support in Congress, the path to passage for COVID-19 aid has been more convoluted in the past, raising some concerns that the support for Ukraine may be delayed if the two priorities are combined in a single package.

Asked by moderator Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday if the two priorities have to be paired, Kaine said, “I don’t think it does.”

The Virginia Democrat, however, did not endorse passing the funding together or separately.

“The procedure where you put bills together or separate them is quirky and sometimes unpredictable. … We need COVID aid, we need Ukraine aid, we should do them together or separately, but we shouldn’t wait around,” he said.

He said the month of May for Congress needs to be about passing the two funding priorities, in addition to the COMPETES Act, which seeks to make the U.S. more competitive with China.

Pressed on why Congress does not prioritize a standalone measure focused on defense support for Ukraine, Kaine said “we can break it into smaller pieces or larger pieces,” emphasizing “we do need to do this quickly.”

“We still have some time to pass this next package. But I think my colleagues in Congress on both sides, with very few exceptions, they understand how significant this is. There’s quite a bit of bipartisan resolve on the Ukraine aid package,” he added.

Tags Biden Margaret Brennan Nancy Pelosi Tim Kaine

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