WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) released the following statements after their Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act, a bill to authorize the President to enter into lend-lease agreements with Ukraine to provide military equipment to protect civilians, passed the Senate. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) were original cosponsors of the legislation.
“We introduced this measure in January as part of a broad campaign to deter Russia from making a terrible mistake, which the Kremlin has nevertheless now done. This horrific, unnecessary and unprovoked war against Ukraine has to end – with Ukraine prevailing against Russia’s aggression,” said Senator Cardin. “Our bipartisan bill streamlines the president’s ability to bolster Ukraine’s defenses, defend innocent civilians and also to protect our frontline NATO allies who may become targets of a desperate Vladimir Putin.”
“How we address a threat against one democracy’s sovereignty sends a message about how we’ll act on others, and adversaries like China are watching,” said Senator Cornyn. “If we believe America supports freedom and democracy, we must provide Ukraine with the weapons necessary to protect its citizens, and I urge the House to pass this legislation as soon as possible lest our promises to our allies ring hallow.”
As part of his Arms Export Control Act authority, the President can currently lend and lease defense articles to U.S. partners and allies when it is in the United States’ national security interest. However, bureaucratic barriers and other limitations make these authorities impractical for the current crisis facing Ukraine.
This enhanced lend-lease authority would be specific to Ukraine to help remove obstacles to lending arms to Ukraine. It would not create a new program but would streamline the President’s current authority to lend the defense articles necessary to defend civilian populations in Ukraine. In addition, this legislation would:
- Require the President or his designee to establish expedited delivery procedures for any military equipment loaned or leased to Ukraine to ensure timely delivery to Ukraine; and
- Remain in effect upon enactment for two years, with the possibility of Congress extending the authority if needed.