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Biden Announces Another $1.3 Billion in Aid to Ukraine
President Joe Biden on Thursday announced that the United States is sending another $800 million in military aid to Ukraine along with another $500 million in direct economic assistance to help the Ukrainian government maintain operations.
"This is money the government can help use to stabilize their economy, to support communities that have been devastated by the Russian onslaught and pay the brave workers that continue to provide essential services to the people of Ukraine," Biden said in remarks from the White House.
The new round of assistance brings the total U.S. aid to Ukraine under Biden to roughly $4 billion, including $3.4 billion since Russia’s invasion began eight weeks ago.
Biden last week authorized a separate $800 million package of military aid, but he said this new aid, meant to help Ukraine’s ability to fight in the in the Donbas region, comes at a crucial moment, as Russian forces launch a renewed offensive in the eastern part of the country.
“We’re in a critical window now of time where they’re going to set the stage for the next phase of this war,” Biden said, adding, “Now we have to accelerate that assistance package to help prepare Ukraine for Russia’s offensive that’s going to be more limited in terms of geography, but not in terms of brutality.”
Biden warned, though, that he has nearly exhausted the aid funding authorized by Congress last month and said he will be sending lawmakers a supplemental budget request next week to ensure that U.S. weapons and ammunition can keep flowing to Ukranian fighters and economic assistance can keep flowing to the Ukrainian people.
“My hope is and my expectation is Congress would move and act quickly,” Biden said. “Our unity at home, our unity with our allies and partners, and our unity with the Ukrainian people is sending an unmistakable message to Putin: He will never succeed in dominating and occupying all of Ukraine.”
The Pentagon said that the new security assistance is the eighth drawdown of Defense Department equipment since August 2021. It includes 72 155mm Howitzers and 144,000 artillery rounds; 72 trucks to tow the Howitzers; 121 Phoenix Ghost drones, a new system developed by the Air Force to meet Ukrainian requirements; and field equipment and spare parts.
Quote of the Day: Powell Sets the Stage for a Big Rate Hike
“It is appropriate, in my view, to be moving a little more quickly, and I also think there’s something in the idea of front-end loading whatever accommodation one thinks is appropriate, so that points in the direction of 50 basis points being on the table. … I would say that 50 basis points will be on the table for the May meeting.”
– Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, at a Washington, D.C., panel discussion hosted Thursday by the International Monetary Fund. Powell’s comments signal that the central bank will raise interest rates by half a percentage point when its policymakers meet early next month and will aggressively look to curb inflation after that. “We really are committed to using our tools to get 2% inflation back,” Powell said.
234,000 Covid Deaths Could Have Been Prevented: Analysis
A new analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that since June 2021, when vaccines were widely available to American adults, about 234,000 deaths could have been prevented if those unvaccinated people had gotten their shots. “These vaccine-preventable deaths represent 60% of all adult COVID-19 deaths since June 2021, and a quarter (24%) of the nearly 1 million COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began,” the analysis says.
“It is rare that there is a political issue that translates directly into literal death. This is one,” The Washington Post’s Philip Bump writes. “Skepticism about vaccination — an impulse stoked opportunistically by Republican politicians such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and right-wing media figures such as Fox News’s Tucker Carlson — suppressed immunization rates among Republicans. More than 200,000 people died without the protection that the vaccines demonstrably offered.”
Why Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Rescue Plan Isn’t Rescuing Dems
Alexander Burns of The New York Times writes that the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act passed by Democrats and signed into law by President Biden last year “unleashed a massive wave of spending on local construction projects and programs” but nevertheless “has barely registered with voters.”
The law has drawn criticism from Republicans and some economists who say it fueled inflation that has reached a four-decade high, which voters cite as their top concern. At the same time, voters don’t seem to have noticed the benefits that are flowing — gradually — into their communities. “Rather than a trophy for Mr. Biden and his party, the program has become a case study in how easily voters can overlook even a lavishly funded government initiative delivering benefits close to home,” Burns writes. “Ambivalence among voters stems partly from the fact that many of the projects being funded are, for now, invisible.”
Money from the package will continue to bolster state and city finances through 2026, and Burns notes that the Treasury Department has “issued guidance encouraging cities and counties to treat rescue funding as a flexible resource that could be deployed for purposes faintly related to Covid-19.” But Democrats may not see much political benefit, at least not now. “It just does not connect. That is just the honest to goodness truth,” one Democratic former Virginia state legislator who lost her seat in November told the Times. “Even when you’re talking about schools, so much of this stuff is so far down the line before it’s anything you can see.”
- Buckle Up: The Fed Is About to Get Tough on Inflation – CNN Business
- Powell Hardens Hawkish Pivot Toward Half-Point Fed Rate Hikes – Bloomberg
- Yellen Says Biden Will Press Congress for More Economic Aid to Ukraine – Politico
- Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Calls for a Reshaping of Global Supply Chains That Are ‘Not Secure.’ – New York Times
- Hire Now, Fire Later. Schools Flush With Cash Face a Funding Cliff in 2 Years – Politico
- Shareholders Gained 50 Times as Much as U.S. Workers in Pandemic – Bloomberg
- Florida Legislature Votes to Strip Disney of Special Tax Status in a Win for Governor Ron DeSantis – CBS News
- High Court Rules Congress Can Exclude Puerto Ricans From Aid Program – Washington Post
- How a Single Judge’s Ruling Upended National Covid Policy – Washington Post
- Most People in US Want Masks for Travelers: AP-NORC Poll – Associated Press
- Routine Childhood Vaccinations in the U.S. Slipped During the Pandemic – New York Times
- Waiting for a Covid Vaccine for Your Under-5 Kid? It May Take a Bit Longer. – Politico
- Deborah Birx’s Excruciating Story of Donald Trump’s Covid Response – New York Times
- ‘I’ve Had It With This Guy’: G.O.P. Leaders Privately Blasted Trump After Jan. 6 – New York Times
Views and Analysis
- Bad News About Views of the Economy Gets Worse for Democrats – Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent, Washington Post
- Biden’s False Claim That ‘Congressional Republicans’ Want to Raise Taxes – Glenn Kessler, Washington Post
- The Long-Standing Alliance Between the GOP and Big Business Is No More – Henry Olsen, Washington Post
- Quarter of U.S. Covid Deaths Were Probably Preventable With Vaccination – Philip Bump, Washington Post
- CDC Strategy on Masks Could Haunt the Country – Rachael Levy, Politico
- We Politicized Masks. Now What? – Aaron E. Carroll, New York Times
- We Have the Technology to Stop Superspreading Without Masks – Donald K. Milton, Edward A. Nardell and David Michaels, New York Times
- Biden’s Covid Team Should Stop Treating Parents Like Idiots – Alyssa Rosenberg, Washington Post