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14 Nov, 2023 00:11

Republican objections complicating Ukraine aid – White House

The US House of Representatives has ignored requests to provide Kiev with more money
Republican objections complicating Ukraine aid – White House

The refusal by US Republicans in Congress to pass President Joe Biden’s omnibus funding bill has already impacted Washington’s ability to send military aid to Ukraine, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Monday.

Last month, the White House asked Congress for a $106 billion supplemental funding request, bundling funding for Ukraine with aid to Israel and Taiwan, among other things. The Republican-majority House has since only passed a $14 billion bill for aid to Israel, which had been blocked by the Democrat-controlled Senate.

“This is already affecting our ability to give Ukraine what they need, and this effect will only get worse,” Sullivan told reporters at a White House press briefing.

Last week, USAID echoed warnings from the White House that cash for Ukraine is drying up by informing Congress that its own budget for Kiev had run out. On Friday, the Pentagon said it only had $1 billion left in congressionally approved funding.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned Congress last month that without continued US funding, Russia will “only get stronger.” Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky had been more blunt during his September visit to Washington, saying that if the US does not send more money, “we will lose.”

Biden has repeatedly promised to fund Ukraine for “as long as it takes” to defeat Russia, while insisting the US and its allies were not directly involved in the conflict. Congress has passed four Ukraine aid bills, to the tune of $113 billion, since Moscow launched its military operation in the neighboring state in February 2022. By the Pentagon’s own estimates, $43.9 billion of that had gone to security assistance to Kiev. 

What changed in early October was the ouster of the Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, reportedly over striking a secret Ukraine funding deal with the White House, and the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, which has commanded all the attention of the US public and politicians alike.

The new speaker, Mike Johnson of Louisiana, has proposed averting a November 17 government shutdown by passing several different bills, funding some parts of government operations through January 19 and others through February 2. There was no mention of any money being allocated to Ukraine, however.

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