U.S. Spending Package for Ukraine Could Top $10B: Senator Chris Coons

U.S. Senator Chris Coons said Friday he expects the Biden administration to ask for potentially $10 billion or more in a spending package to help Ukraine following the Russian invasion.

The democratic senator and chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee said this money would go toward helping Ukrainian refugees flee the country, deploying troops and enforcing the recently announced U.S. sanctions against Russia, the Associated Press reported. Though costly, he added that both sides of the political spectrum seemed to be in favor of supporting Ukraine.

As attacks continue across Ukraine, experts predict the capital of Kyiv will fall within days, according to Newsweek's live updates on the situation. So far, more than 130 Ukrainians have died in the attacks and another 100,000 have fled their homes.

Russia's decision to invade Ukraine angered many countries, including the U.S., prompting sanctions and an order from President Joe Biden to send 7,000 more troops to Europe, the AP added.

On Friday, the administration asked Congress for $6.4 billion in funding to help Ukraine, Bloomberg reported, but according to Coons' estimations, that total will go higher.

Coons told reporters that he and other senators took part in a phone call with top officials including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss the situation. According to Roll Call, Coons said that, based on the meeting, he feels confident his fellow senators will support a spending bill and additional sanctions.

The AP added that Coons also appeared to imply the monetary support will continue even if Russia were to take over Ukraine.

"There is strong enthusiasm to provide ongoing resupply and training and any other covert and other support necessary for the Ukrainian resistance," he said.

Of the funds already requested by the administration, $2.9 billion would be directed toward humanitarian aid and security assistance for Ukraine and other nearby countries that are potentially at risk, according to Bloomberg. Another $3.5 billion would be dedicated to the U.S. Department of Defense's response to the attacks.

However, Politico reported it could be too late for any new money to make a difference, as legislative processes take a long time to pass measures, and the people of Ukraine don't have that kind of time. House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith told CNN, "I don't think it's realistic to think that we're going to be able to reinforce them enough in the short term to repel the invasion."

"We do need to try and help them as much as possible, and it is quite possible that what we're looking at here is a more long-term insurgency," he continued.

Other members of Congress, like House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, are more optimistic that lawmakers can get everything done in a timely manner.

"We will work hand-in-hand with the administration. If they need something sooner, we'll deliver something sooner," he said. "But I'm very confident that both parties understand the importance of providing assistance to Ukraine and to our NATO allies. And we will do that as promptly as necessary."

Update 02/25/22 6:15 p.m. ET: This story was updated to add more information.

Chris Coons, Senate
Senator Chris Coons said the Biden administration's spending package for Ukraine could exceed $10 billion. Above, Coons speaks during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to examine U.S.-Russia policy at the U.S. Capitol on December 7, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Alex Brandon/Pool/Getty Images