As Congress enters a lame-duck session after the recent midterm elections, Joe Biden’s administration is taking the opportunity to fast-track one last outrageously large aid package to Ukraine. The White House has requested an additional $38 billion in aid for the country at war with Russia. If Congress approves the package, it would bring the total in U.S. aid to Ukraine to a staggering $104 billion in less than a year.
Included in the package is $21.7 billion for security assistance which, according to a summary table for the request includes, “equipment for Ukraine, replenishment of Department of Defense stocks and for continued military, intelligence and other defense support.” The package would also include $14.5 billion in State Department and USAID funding. Keep in mind that the USAID can still not account for the $1 billion in funding it received for Afghanistan during the U.S. withdrawal in 2021.
Meanwhile, $900 million of the requested funds would go to the Department of Health and Human Services to “provide standard assistance health care and support services to Ukrainian parolees.” The Energy Department would also be allocated $626 million partially for “nuclear security support” to assist Ukraine if there is a nuclear incident at the Zaporizhzhia power plant that has continuously been shelled by the Russians.
Not only is the White House requesting $38 billion in aid for Ukraine, in addition to the $65.9 billion that has already been approved, but the Biden administration is also requesting $7 billion in presidential drawdown authority for Kyiv. The drawdown authority would give the president the ability to transfer weapons from already existing U.S. stocks. The request for additional presidential drawdown authority comes a week after the Defense Department announced that it would be transferring $400 million worth of weapons stocks from the U.S. to Ukraine. It should be noted that drawdown authority has been used over 20 times since August 2021.
While some Republicans in Congress seem happy to continue passing massive aid packages for the war-torn country, the deputy director of Concerned Veterans for America, John Byrnes, said in a statement, “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.”
As the aid bill goes before Congress for consideration, it should be remembered that when the Biden administration requested $33 billion for its second supplemental aid package in April, lawmakers approved funding for $40 billion. Hopefully, if the $38 billion funding request is approved, Congress will exhibit a little more self-control this time.