The White House announced on Tuesday that it will seek an additional $37.7 billion in aid for Ukraine in the upcoming “lame duck” session of Congress.
According to reports, the proposed aid package would include the following:
- $21.7 billion for equipment and ammunition for Ukraine and to replenish DoD drawdowns.
- $14.5 billion for “direct budget support to Ukraine, critical wartime investments and security assistance as well as to strengthen global food security and provide humanitarian assistance.”
- $626 million for “nuclear security” in Ukraine and modernizing the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
- $900 million for health care and support services to Ukrainians.
Keep in mind that these numbers are “authorizations.” Before they become real, Congress has to appropriate the money.
Congress should reject this request.
As I’ve reported before, much of the funding appropriated has yet to be obligated (Defense Department Announces Another $625 Million in Ukraine Aid So Let’s Take a Look at DoD IG Report on Ukraine Spending So Far).In my view, adding more money to the existing pot is not helpful for a lot of reasons.
First, this is being rammed through a lame-duck session. That is not the way a serious government acts or a serious Congress entertains funding requests. Any proposal of this size, particularly in a critical national defense area, must have hearings, so the American public knows what the money is for. For instance, how does the Strategic Petroleum Reserve relate to anything other than Joe Biden stupidly declaring war on oil and gas?
Second, the money that we do spend needs to be independently audited. I’m not opposed to increasing our ability to manufacture munitions and equipment. One wonderful thing about Putin’s War in Ukraine is that it showed that the Defense Department has hollowed out its manufacturing base in favor of multi-billion dollar weapons systems with components produced in 435 Congressional districts. Ukraine has shown us we need to be able to produce millions of rounds of artillery ammunition and hundreds of thousands of GPS-guided rockets.
Third, if the Biden White House is serious about supporting Ukraine (and I think it is something that we must do if we don’t want to have more of these wars on Russia’s periphery), it must make sure the money is not mismanaged or misspent. The stench of corruption will destroy popular support for Ukraine faster than anything Putin can come up with. For example, over the weekend, unsubstantiated stories began circulating that Ukraine had invested US funds in FTX, which then sent the money to Democrat candidates. As far as I can tell, FTX’s role with Ukraine was as a clearing house that converted cryptocurrency contributions to Ukraine into fiat currency. But, in the words of Winston Churchill, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
Fourth, ramming this through a lame-duck session makes this bill seem shady, and it is a direct challenge to Kevin McCarthy, or whoever emerges as Speaker of the House, that Biden refuses to cooperate with the new GOP majority in the House. McCarthy should put the White House on notice that its existence will be a living Hell if it persists in this bullsh**.
The Department of Defense has enough drawdown authority to do what needs to be done through the New Year and the new Congress. Even then, Congress should stop authorizing vast sums of money that can’t be spent prudently in favor of more and smaller amounts. The Biden White House should be forced to report and testify as to what we are doing at each authorization hearing.