Congress Passes Ukraine Lend-Lease Act with Almost No Dissent

The House voted on Thursday 417-10 to approve the Ukraine Lend-Lease Act, following its passage by unanimous consent in the Senate last month. The measure has now gone to Joe Biden for his signature into law.

The law is designed to expedite the shipment of U.S. arms to Ukraine for use in its defense against the ongoing Russian invasion. The measure revives a program begun during the World War II era to lease military equipment to allied militaries.

Without the provisions of the new law, Ukraine could only lease U.S. equipment with conditions, including returning equipment within a certain term and reimbursing the U.S. for damaged or destroyed equipment. The new law will remove those types of conditions.

The new law also authorizes Joe Biden to lease equipment to Ukraine during an emergency without justifying the decision with Congress. Outside of nuclear or chemical weapons, there is little limitation to what the White House can send to Ukraine without any further approval.

Jordan Cohen with the Cato Institute said that the procedures set out in the lend-lease act get rid of the “entire bureaucratic process” involved in selling weapons. He added, “Now, you can just lease it.”

Cohen added that the new lend-lease law “makes it a lot easier for the U.S. to escalate very quickly.” He said if the current military conditions in Ukraine remain as they are, not much will change under the new law. However, the law makes it easier for the U.S. to become more involved with “far more advanced weapons,” according to Cohen.

Rep. Ruben Callego (D-AZ) issued a statement saying “the war is far from over.” He added that the law helps “ensure Ukraine remains a sovereign democracy” and said the U.S. “cannot let up” on sending the “arms, intelligence, and aid” needed to defend the Ukrainian homeland.

The small number of Republicans who voted against the bill included Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), and Thomas Massie (R-KY).

Massie posted a tweet on Thursday regarding his “no” vote, describing the bill as “insane.” He said Congress has just granted Biden authority to send into the conflict “virtually any weapon of war other than a nuclear weapon.”