White House warns of critical Ukraine aid shortfall as year-end approaches

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Second left: Shalanda Young

4th December 2023 – (Washington) The White House issued a stark warning to congressional leaders that time is swiftly running out to authorise further assistance to Ukraine. The warning stresses that without additional funding, Kyiv’s battlefield advances against Russia may be jeopardised.

The White House budget chief, Shalanda Young, issued letters to party leaders in the House and Senate, cautioning that a failure to act on a fresh round of funding before the end of the year could significantly weaken Ukraine’s position on the battlefield.

Young, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, stated: “I want to be clear: Without congressional action, by the end of the year we will run out of resources to procure more weapons and equipment for Ukraine and to provide equipment from U.S. military stocks. There is no magical pot of funding available to meet this moment. We are out of money — and nearly out of time.”

Speaker Mike Johnson, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell all received identical letters.

This development comes as the administration is urging the finalisation of President Joe Biden’s $61.4 billion emergency funding request for Ukraine. This request is part of a larger $106 billion supplemental package Biden sent to lawmakers in October for additional funding for various areas, including Ukraine, Israel, the Pacific, and the U.S.-Mexico border.

The White House’s calls for action come just as the Senate is nearing a significant vote on the aid package. Schumer plans to hold a vote on Biden’s proposal in the Senate this week.

However, Republicans in the House and Senate have stipulated that further funding for Ukraine must be coupled with changes in border security policy. A failure to reach an agreement on border provisions could quickly impede the funding.

Opposition to additional funding for Ukraine has grown among House Republicans, presenting another hurdle for Speaker Mike Johnson. Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, has also advocated splitting up aid to Ukraine and Israel, while Schumer and McConnell are aiming to approve a single comprehensive funding package.

Congressional leaders have mere weeks to reach a consensus and deliver a deal to Biden’s desk before the year’s end. If Ukraine aid is put on hold until January, a new aid package could get entangled in a government funding dispute set to commence in the new year. However, Young has argued that Congress cannot afford to delay.

“This isn’t a next year problem,” she argued. “The time to help a democratic Ukraine fight against Russian aggression is right now. It is time for Congress to act.”

As new funding has stalled on Capitol Hill, Young said that assistance to Ukraine has been depleted and weapons packages have been squeezed. The Pentagon has used 97 percent of the $62.3 billion it had received as of mid-November, while the State Department has exhausted all of the $4.7 billion in security assistance money it was allocated.

“Already, our packages of security assistance have become smaller and the deliveries of aid have become more limited,” Young wrote. “If our assistance stops, it will cause significant issues for Ukraine.”

Young reiterated the administration’s stance that assisting Ukraine’s military prevents a broader war that could draw the U.S. into direct conflict with Russia should Vladimir Putin succeed and then attack a NATO country.

The letter also underscores an argument increasingly made by Biden and senior leaders to justify the tens of billions of dollars in Ukraine and Israel funding: it boosts the U.S. economy and creates jobs.

Biden’s latest security funding request would direct more than $50 billion into the defence industry, Young said, specifying several states where air defence systems, missiles, and artillery rounds are built.

“While we cannot predict exactly which U.S companies will be awarded new contracts, we do know the funding will be used to acquire advanced capabilities to defend against attacks on civilians in Israel and Ukraine — for example, air defence systems built in Alabama, Texas, and Georgia and vital subcomponents sourced from nearly all 50 states,” Young said. The majority of funding already approved by Congress, she said, has gone to bolster the American defence industrial base or to support military and intelligence operations.

“That has improved our own military readiness since DOD is buying new equipment to replace what we are sending Ukraine, jumpstarting and expanding production lines, and is supporting good-paying jobs in dozens of states across the country,” Young wrote.