President Joe Biden has requested Congress to approve billions in additional funding for Ukraine. However, an increasing number of Republican leaders in the House are hesitant to support more aid for the government in Kiev. This budget standoff is pushing the US government closer to a potential shutdown.
In an interview with US media, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby issued a warning that the US might exhaust its financial support for Ukraine in a matter of weeks. Kirby emphasized that unless a temporary budget bill, which includes the additional funding requested by the Biden administration, is passed, it will impact Washington’s ability to assist Ukraine.
Kirby expressed some confidence in the availability of funds for the next few weeks but stressed that without the requested supplemental funding, supporting Ukraine during the fall and winter months would be severely affected. He underscored the significant consequences a government shutdown would have on Ukraine’s battlefield success.
Kirby urged Congress to approve an additional funding request of $24 billion for Ukraine while favorable conditions persisted, noting that challenging combat conditions would likely arise with worsening weather. He also emphasized that the looming government shutdown could hinder Washington’s ability to assist Ukraine.
Back in August, President Biden asked Congress to authorize a supplemental funding request of over $24 billion for Ukraine. This request includes more than $13 billion for security assistance and $7.3 billion for economic and humanitarian aid for Kiev.
The White House Strategic Communications Coordinator also acknowledged the arrival of the first US-made Abrams tanks in Ukraine, with an initial batch of 31 tanks. Kirby acknowledged that using these advanced tanks would be challenging, as they require skilled maintenance, logistics, and a steady supply of spare parts to keep them operational.
Regarding the long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) promised by President Biden to Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky during his visit to the United States, Kirby had no updates to provide. There is still no clarity on the quantity or delivery timeline for these systems. Kirby affirmed the commitment to continue providing security assistance packages to Ukraine.
The White House’s warning regarding Ukraine funding coincides with the impending threat of a government shutdown in the United States. Unless lawmakers on Capitol Hill come to an agreement on a spending budget by the end of this month, the government is headed towards a shutdown. To prevent this shutdown and keep the government operational beyond September 30, Congress must pass a continuing resolution (CR).
However, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has been unsuccessful in garnering sufficient support in the House to pass a CR and send it to the Senate. A group of Republicans in both the House and Senate has made pledges to block any spending bill unless their demands are met, which includes removing any additional funding for Ukraine from these bills.
Prominent figures among these Republicans in the House include Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-GA), while in the Democrat-controlled Senate, several Republican lawmakers, such as Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Rand Paul (R-KY), have also vowed to obstruct the expedited passage of bills that contain extra aid for Ukraine.
Senators J.D. Vance (R-VA) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) have also shown a willingness to force a government shutdown. They were among 29 lawmakers, including Senator Paul, who signed a letter calling for greater transparency regarding the amount spent in Ukraine.
The letter stated that the Biden administration’s request implies an unlimited commitment to support an unspecified type of war in Ukraine, based on an unclear strategy, with goals that have not been communicated to the public or Congress. It further stated that until their concerns are addressed, these lawmakers will “object” to any additional expenditures aimed at supporting the government in Kiev.
Moscow has consistently criticized the provision of foreign weapons to Ukraine, arguing that it only extends the conflict. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov previously remarked that US weapons would “suffer the same fate as others,” in reference to the Abrams tank deliveries to Kiev. Additionally, Russia has cautioned that the arms sent to Ukraine are increasingly ending up on the illegal arms market.