White House Requests $ 38 Billion More in Ukraine Aid

Foreign Affairs

Washington: The White House has asked Congress for another $ 38 billion in Ukraine aid. If lawmakers fund the supplemental request, it would bring the total amount Congress has appropriated for Ukraine to more than $ 100 billion in less than a year.

The Office of Management and Budget asked Congress to include the $ 38 billion Ukraine supplemental funding request – which includes $ 21.7 billion in security assistance – in the government funding bill for fiscal 2023, while seeking additional funds for COVID-19 relief and disaster assistance.

“We are urging the Congress to provide additional appropriations to ensure Ukraine has the funding, weapons and support it needs to defend itself and that vulnerable people continue to receive lifesaving aid,” Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The $ 21.7 billion in Pentagon funding is “for equipment for Ukraine, replenishment of Department of Defence stocks and for continued military, intelligence and other defence support,” according to a summary table accompanying the supplemental request.

The request includes another $14.5 billion in funding for the State Department and USAID for direct financial support to the Ukrainian government, humanitarian assistance and strengthening global food security. A $900 million request for the Department of Health and Human Services would “provide standard assistance health care and support services to Ukrainian parolees.”

The request also contains a $ 626 million Energy Department request, in part for “nuclear security support.” Congress has previously granted funding to the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration to help Ukraine prepare for a potential incident from ongoing Russian shelling at the besieged Zaporizhzhia power plant.

In addition to the total $ 38 billion Ukraine aid request, the White House is also asking Congress to authorize $7 billion in presidential drawdown authority for Kyiv – which allows President Joe Biden to transfer weapons from existing US stocks.

Congress has already passed $ 65.9 billion in Ukraine assistance through three separate supplemental funding packages since Russia’s invasion in February. If Congress funds the fourth request, it would bring the total amount of Ukraine aid lawmakers have approved to $ 104 billion in less than a year.

The Office of Management and Budget said that the Biden administration already has committed three-fourths of the $ 12.35 billion in Ukraine funding that Congress approved in September.

The White House intends for the latest supplemental request to last through the end of FY 23. But the Biden administration burned through the $ 40 billion Ukraine aid supplemental that Congress passed in May in a matter of months, raising the possibility that it may have to ask for a fifth supplemental in what is likely to be a Republican-controlled House.

Several conservative House members aligned with former president Donald Trump have pushed against previous tranches of Ukraine aid, with 57 House and 11 Senate Republicans voting against the $40 billion Ukraine supplemental earlier this year.

A coalition of 12 conservative groups on November 15 sent a letter to Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy urging them not to approve the White House’s latest Ukraine aid request. The coalition included the influential Heritage Foundation, the Trump-aligned America First Policy Institute and Concerned Veterans for America.

“It would be a colossal mistake for congressional leaders to use this lame-duck session to fast-track yet another massive aid package to Ukraine as the United States faces historic inflation and a $ 31 trillion national debt,” Concerned Veterans for America deputy director John Byrnes said in a statement, adding that the US “should not continue to write a blank check to Ukraine.”

McCarthy – who is likely to become House speaker in the next Congress – said in October that his party will not write a “blank check” for Ukraine. But McCarthy – who voted for the $ 40 billion Ukraine supplemental earlier this year – struck a more conciliatory tone a few days before the November midterm elections, clarifying  that “there has to be accountability going forward” and that “resources are going to where it is needed.”

Other key Republicans, particularly in the Senate, have shown more enthusiasm about passing additional Ukraine aid.

“I’m proud of them fighting for freedom and so forth, and I think that we will not turn our back on them,” said Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican