WASHINGTON — The White House on Tuesday asked Congress for another $38 billion in Ukraine aid. If lawmakers fund the supplemental request, it would bring the total amount Congress has appropriated for Ukraine to more than $100 billion in less than a year.
The Office of Management and Budget asked Congress to include the $38 billion Ukraine supplemental funding request – which includes $21.7 billion in security assistance – in the government funding bill for fiscal 2023, while seeking additional funds for COVID-19 relief and disaster assistance.
“We are urging the Congress to provide additional appropriations to ensure Ukraine has the funding, weapons and support it needs to defend itself and that vulnerable people continue to receive lifesaving aid,” Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
The $21.7 billion in Pentagon funding is “for equipment for Ukraine, replenishment of Department of Defense stocks and for continued military, intelligence and other defense support,” according to a summary table accompanying the supplemental request.
The request includes another $14.5 billion in funding for the State Department and USAID for direct financial support to the Ukrainian government, humanitarian assistance and strengthening global food security. A $900 million request for the Department of Health and Human Services would “provide standard assistance health care and support services to Ukrainian parolees.”
The request also contains a $626 million Energy Department request, in part for “nuclear security support.” Congress has previously granted funding to the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration to help Ukraine prepare for a potential incident from ongoing Russian shelling at the besieged Zaporizhzhia power plant.
In addition to the total $38 billion Ukraine aid request, the White House is also asking Congress to authorize $7 billion in presidential drawdown authority for Kyiv – which allows President Joe Biden to transfer weapons from existing U.S. stocks.
The Defense Department announced last week that it would transfer another $400 million worth of U.S. weapons stocks to Ukraine, and it has used drawdown authority more than 20 times since August 2021.
Congress has already passed $65.9 billion in Ukraine assistance through three separate supplemental funding packages since Russia’s invasion in February. If Congress funds the fourth request, it would bring the total amount of Ukraine aid lawmakers have approved to $104 billion in less than a year.
The Office of Management and Budget said that the Biden administration already has committed three-fourths of the $12.35 billion in Ukraine funding that Congress approved in September.
The White House intends for the latest supplemental request to last through the end of FY 23. But the Biden administration burned through the $40 billion Ukraine aid supplemental that Congress passed in May in a matter of months, raising the possibility that it may have to ask for a fifth supplemental in what is likely to be a Republican-controlled House.
Several conservative House members aligned with former president Donald Trump have pushed against previous tranches of Ukraine aid, with 57 House and 11 Senate Republicans voting against the $40 billion Ukraine supplemental earlier this year.
A coalition of 12 conservative groups on Tuesday sent a letter to Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., urging them not to approve the White House’s latest Ukraine aid request. The coalition included the influential Heritage Foundation, the Trump-aligned America First Policy Institute and Concerned Veterans for America.
“It would be a colossal mistake for congressional leaders to use this lame-duck session to fast-track yet another massive aid package to Ukraine as the United States faces historic inflation and a $31 trillion national debt,” Concerned Veterans for America deputy director John Byrnes said in a statement, adding that the U.S. “should not continue to write a blank check to Ukraine.”
McCarthy – who is likely to become House speaker in the next Congress – said in October that his party will not write a “blank check” for Ukraine. But McCarthy – who voted for the $40 billion Ukraine supplemental earlier this year – struck a more conciliatory tone a few days before the November midterm elections, clarifying in a CNN interview that “there has to be accountability going forward” and that “resources are going to where it is needed.”
Other key Republicans, particularly in the Senate, have shown more enthusiasm about passing additional Ukraine aid.
“I’m proud of them fighting for freedom and so forth, and I think that we will not turn our back on them,” Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, told Defense News on Monday. “If they show it’s needed, we ought to do it.”
It also remains to be seen whether Congress will surpass the Biden administration’s $38 billion request with an even higher package. The White House asked for $33 billion in its second supplemental funding request in April, only for lawmakers to plus that number up to $40 billion.
“We are waiting to get some final numbers,” Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., the defense spending panel chairwoman told Defense News on Monday. “But I look forward to supporting the Ukrainian people in their battle for freedom.”
Bryant Harris is the Congress reporter for Defense News. He has covered U.S. foreign policy, national security, international affairs and politics in Washington since 2014. He has also written for Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera English and IPS News.