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U.S. President Joe Biden has called for the House of Representatives to quickly pass a bill that would provide billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine, challenging Republicans lawmakers to take a stand against Russian President Vladimir Putin and vote in favor of the spending package.

Biden urged immediate passage of the bill in comments at the White House on February 13 after House Speaker Mike Johnson (Republican-Louisiana) sharply criticized the $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and other countries, casting serious doubts on its future just hours after it passed the Senate.

"I urge speaker Johnson to bring it to the floor immediately, immediately," Biden said, adding that it is "critical" for Ukraine.

Johnson said in a statement late on February 12 that the bill was “silent on the most pressing issue facing our country" -- border security provisions that Republicans had insisted be included in the bill, casting doubt on its chances of passing the House.

Biden didn't mention border security in his comments from the White House but reminded Republicans that the United States "stands up for freedom" and stands strong for its allies.

"We never bow down to anyone, certainly not to Vladimir Putin, so let's get on with this," Biden said. "We can't walk away now. That's what Putin is betting on."

Biden, a Democrat, warned Republicans in the House who think they can oppose funding for Ukraine and not be held accountable that "history is watching" and a failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment "will never be forgotten."

He also criticized recent comments by former President Donald Trump about NATO as "dangerous" and "shockingly un-American."

Biden reiterated Trump's claim that he told NATO allies that if they didn't spent enough on defense, he would encourage Russians to "do whatever the hell they want."

"Can you imagine a former president of the United States saying that?" Biden asked. "No other president in our history has ever bowed down to a Russian dictator. Let me say this as clearly as I can. I never will," he added.

He accused Trump, the current front-runner in the race to become the Republican party's presidential nominee, of looking at NATO as if it were a "burden" and failing to see an alliance that "protects America and the world." To Trump it is a "protection racket," and he doesn’t understand that NATO is built on the fundamental principles of freedom, security and national sovereignty, he said.

The U.S. president also stressed that the bill also provides funding for other U.S. national-security priorities in the Middle East, where the U.S. military has launched numerous attacks against militias backed by Iran, and money to help defend Israel in its fight against Hamas, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the EU.

It also provides funding to support U.S. national-security goals in Asia, Biden said, saying this is the "responsibility of a great nation."

In Kyiv, Ihor Zhovkva, deputy director of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's office, told RFE/RL that the bill's passage by the Senate was "a very serious signal," and a "strong decision" was expected from the House of Representatives.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 70-29, and Zhovkva said the approval of 70 senators will make it difficult to find reasons for not voting for the bill.

"We have every reason to hope that the corresponding strong decision will be approved in the House of Representatives," Zhovkva noted.

This content originally appeared on News - Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty and was authored by News - Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty.


[1] Офіс президента очікує «сильного рішення» від Конгресу США щодо допомоги Україні ➤