US says it will run out of funds for Ukraine this month

00:06, Tuesday, 19 December, 2023
US says it will run out of funds for Ukraine this month

The U.S. will run out of funding for Ukraine this month if Congress does not act to pass President Joe Biden’s emergency supplemental spending request that has been stalled for weeks on Capitol Hill, a top U.S. official said Monday.

The Biden administration plans to announce one more package of military aid to Ukraine this month, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Monday. But after that, funding for Ukraine will dry up, he said.

“When that one is done … we will have no more replenishment authority available to us. And we’re going to need Congress to act without delay,” Kirby said. The Pentagon still has $4.4 billion in presidential drawdown authority to provide weapons to Ukraine directly from Defense Department inventory, according to Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Garron Garn. But the weapons DOD can transfer to Ukraine are limited by the necessary funding to replenish U.S. stockpiles, and that’s what is almost gone.

On Sunday, Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord urged Congress in a letter to act on the president’s roughly $111 billion supplemental, which has been bogged down on Capitol Hill as lawmakers debate tying the request to a deal on border security.

“It is essential that Congress act without delay on the Administration’s pending supplemental request. Doing so is in our clear national interest, and our assistance is vitally needed so Ukraine can continue to fight for freedom,” McCord wrote in the letter. Bloomberg first reported McCord’s letter, which POLITICO also later obtained.

The supplemental contains more than $60 billion in aid for Ukraine, more than $14 billion for Israel, as well as funding for Taiwan.

Lawmakers are still far apart on talks to link border security restrictions with Ukraine funding. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer asked senators to return this week instead of going on recess on Thursday in order to make progress on a framework agreement.

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday that, following weeks of negotiations, senators are “not anywhere close” to striking a deal before the end of the year — a prospect that imperils further U.S. aid to Ukraine.

As of Dec. 6, the Pentagon had $1.1 billion in existing resources available to backfill U.S. stocks, spokesperson Maj. Charlie Dietz said at the time.

But the U.S. has now allocated that remaining funding to buying new weapons from industry to replace the ones the Pentagon has already sent to Ukraine, Kirby said.

The Biden administration has sought to sell the American public on spending more money on Ukraine by highlighting the benefit to U.S. manufacturers and the jobs market. Officials circulated a graphic on Capitol Hill showing that battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Arizona are reaping billions of dollars from the efforts to arm Ukraine.

Kirby reiterated that message on Monday, noting the funding “of course supports good-paying American jobs in the process, [and] also is helping strengthen the production lines and strengthen our relationship with the defense industry across the country.”

4388 | 0