WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – President Joe Biden met with the leaders of Finland and Sweden on Thursday as the two countries move to join the NATO alliance. Just hours after the meeting, Congress voted to send $40 billion in aid to Ukraine.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto walked alongside the president at the White House, an image mirroring their unified messages. During their visit, President Biden emphasized his belief that the countries will make NATO stronger.
“They have the full, total, complete backing of the United States of America,” Biden said.
However, their applications are facing pushback from Turkey.
“We are, right now, having a dialogue with all NATO member countries, including Turkey, on different levels to sort out any issues,” Andersson said.
There are additional concerns that expanding the alliance could anger Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“It is not a threat to any nation. It never has been. NATO’s purpose is to defend against aggression,” Biden said.
After that meeting, the Senate passed a $40 billion package to give Ukraine more weapons, food assistance and direct economic aid.
“Help is on the way. Real help. Significant help,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said.
But that passage didn’t come without political drama. The vote on the aid package was delayed by one Republican senator who felt it was too much to be spending on a foreign country.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., blasted that resistance.
“It is embarrassing to say we had to wait a full calendar week in the midst of a bloody war where innocent people are dying,” Durbin said.
In the end, the bill did get a lot of bipartisan support – including from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
“Anyone concerned about the cost of supporting a Ukrainian victory should consider the much larger cost should Ukraine lose,” McConnell said.