White House warns of urgent need for Ukraine aid deal

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White House warns of urgent need for Ukraine aid deal
  • By Anthony Zurcher
  • North America Correspondent

December 4, 2023

Image source, Getty Images

The White House has issued a stark warning about the need for additional U.S. aid to Ukraine, but Congress is still no closer to agreement on a compromise spending package that would help fund the effort of war.

“We are out of money – and almost out of time,” wrote Shalanda Young, the White House budget director, in a letter released to Republican and Democratic leaders.

She warned that if Congress did not approve more military aid to Ukraine before the end of the year, it would “bring the nation to its knees” in its fight against Russia and that there was no no more “magic pot of financing” to draw from.

However, on Monday, Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson appeared to reject the latest calls to provide tens of billions of dollars in additional funding.

“The Biden administration has failed to substantively address my conference’s legitimate concerns about the lack of a clear Ukraine strategy, a path to resolving the conflict, or a plan to meaningfully ensure “adequate accountability for the aid provided by American taxpayers,” he wrote on social media.

Since the war began in February 2022, the US Congress has approved more than $110 billion (£87 billion) in military and economic aid to Ukraine. The Biden administration, however, has been warning for months that most of this money has already been distributed.

According to Frederick Kagan, director of the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project and a former professor at the U.S. Military Academy, funding delays are already having very real consequences on the Ukrainian battlefield. The current counter-offensive against Russia is being scaled back and future operations to regain lost territories are uncertain.

“Ukrainians have to make a difficult choice here,” he said. “If they’re not sure they’re going to get anything else from the United States, then they should keep what they have. »

What the Ukrainian military needs, he said, are tanks, armored vehicles, fighter jets, drones and long-range weapons – and the United States is the only country that can provide this material quickly and in the quantities that Ukraine will need in the coming year. .

There are still bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress in favor of additional US aid to Ukraine, even if it does not reach the level of $61.4 billion (£48.28 billion). sterling) requested by the White House. Turning that congressional support into law the president can sign, however, has proven to be a daunting challenge.

Republicans and Democrats in the US Senate are negotiating an even bigger $106 billion (£83.9 billion) spending package that includes aid to Ukraine as well as military support for Israel and Taiwan and increased funding for U.S.-Mexico border security.

However, it is this last element of the package that has caused the most political heartburn. Democrats have balked at proposed changes to immigration policy, including changing how asylum seekers at the border are processed and strengthening the requirements for entry into the United States.

“In exchange for additional funding for Ukraine, we must make meaningful and substantial reforms to our border policy,” Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas said in a television interview on Sunday.

Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he will bring a military aid bill to the House for a vote this week, but it’s unclear whether it will have enough Republican support without an agreement on immigration measures.

Even if Ukraine’s aid clears the Senate hurdle, its prospects in the House of Representatives are equally murky. Even though President Johnson has said he supports additional funds for Ukraine, he was one of 117 Republicans in the House who voted on September 28 to block only $300 million in security aid. additional for this country.

If he puts a massive Senate-backed aid plan to a vote in the House, relying on Democratic support to pass it, he could sharply divide Republicans and threaten his own hold on power before a new round of acrimonious budget negotiations early next year.

Image source, Getty Images

In a possible attempt to shore up support in Congress, the White House has offered additional economic and national security aid to Ukraine. In her letter to Congress, Young said the requested funds would be used to manufacture weapons at factories across the country.

“We will modernize vital munitions and equipment like Javelins made in Alabama, guided multiple launch rocket systems made in West Virginia, Arkansas and Texas…and artillery shells made in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Iowa and in many other states,” she wrote.

As an election year approaches, the White House may hope that members of Congress will look for ways to tout how their actions help local economies in their home districts.

Mr. Kagan said he was not surprised that funding for Ukraine had become a more controversial topic in the U.S. political debate as the conflict approaches its third year.

“The American people deserve to have their representatives determine exactly what America’s interests are and for there to be a real debate about the distribution of what, after all, is a significant amount of money,” he said.

But ultimately, he said the stakes were clear.

“The outcome of this war will be determined firstly by what the Ukrainians can do, but secondly by what the United States chooses to do. »

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White House warns of urgent need for Ukraine aid deal - 1

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Keith Ramirez

tech enthusiast and lifelong gamer. With a B.Tech in CSE, he combines his technical knowledge with his passion for gaming to create a unique perspective. Keith's love for gaming dates back to a time before games consoles even existed, making him a true veteran in the gaming world. From the 80s to present day, he has immersed himself in countless virtual adventures. As an Xbox Live Beta tester, Keith has had the opportunity to shape the future of gaming. Additionally, he has also served as a former gaming forum admin, fostering communities and sharing his gaming expertise with fellow enthusiasts.