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WASHINGTON: U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday she hopes to pass a $33 billion aid package for Ukraine requested by President Joe Biden “as soon as possible.”

Biden asked Congress on Thursday for the money to support the government in Kyiv - a dramatic escalation of U.S. funding for Ukraine more than two months after it was invaded by Russia.

Lawmakers from both parties said they wanted to approve the emergency funding request quickly, but there was no immediate word on exactly when the House of Representatives and Senate might vote amid disputes over what should be in any legislation.

“We hope to as soon as possible pass that legislation,” Pelosi told her weekly news conference.

In Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy likened the aid package to the U.S. Lend-Lease Act that helped defeat Adolf Hitler in World War Two.

“I am sure now that the Lend-Lease will help Ukraine and the whole free world to beat the ideological successors of the Nazis, who started a war against us,” he said in a late night address on Friday.

“Lend-Lease and other programs in support of Ukraine are concrete proof that freedom is still able to defend itself against tyranny.”

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and the West says this a false pretext for an unprovoked war of aggression by President Vladimir Putin.

US diplomats to return to Ukraine as Washington pledges $700mn in military aid

Biden’s funding request includes over $20 billion for weapons, ammunition and other military assistance, as well as $8.5 billion in direct economic assistance to the Ukrainian government and $3 billion in humanitarian aid.

Democrats, who narrowly control Congress and Republicans, disagree over whether to combine the Ukraine funding with billions of dollars for COVID-19 relief that Biden requested in March.

Some Republicans have said they want the two issues to be separate, but some Democrats have seen support for Ukraine aid as a chance to pass COVID relief.

Pelosi said lawmakers would have to “come to terms” with how to address both issues.

“We have emergencies here. We need to have the COVID money and time is of the essence because we need the Ukraine money, we need the COVID money, so I would hope that we can do that,” Pelosi said.

Some Republicans have also threatened to tie Biden’s funding requests to legislation that would prevent him rescinding Title 42, an immigration rule imposed under Republican President Donald Trump that allows U.S. officials to turn asylum seekers away from the U.S. border with Mexico due to the COVID pandemic.

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