Aid to kyiv may be cut off if Congress fails to pass $40bn spending package by May 19, Pentagon says
The flow of US weapons to Ukraine could be cut off, at least temporarily, unless Congress quickly approves nearly $40 billion in new spending to help kyiv repel Russia’s offensive in the former Soviet republic, the Pentagon has warned.
“May 19 is the day that really, without additional authorities, we start to not have the ability to ship new things. . .” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Friday. “By May 19, it will start to affect our ability to provide aid on an uninterrupted basis.”
Weapons shipments to kyiv would not stop immediately on May 20 without new funding because there would still be some supplies in the pipeline purchased under the roughly $100 million in spending authorization the Pentagon currently has to help Ukraine, Kirby said. However, he added, by losing its ability to obtain new shipments, the Pentagon would face “a period of time with nothing moving” if there is a prolonged delay in the approval of the new financing.
“We’ve been moving at a pretty fast pace here, both in terms of the individual packages that have been approved and how quickly those things get into Ukrainian hands.” Kirby said. “Literally every day, there are things that happen and we would like to continue so that we can continue that pace for as long as possible.”
Washington’s latest Ukraine aid package, valued at $39.8 billion, passed the House overwhelmingly on Tuesday night, but the Senate failed to rush the bill through on Thursday. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) opposed unanimous consent, a provision that allows bills with strong bipartisan support to go to a snap vote without debate, after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), will refuse to add language to the relief legislation that requires an inspector general be appointed to oversee how the money is spent.
Schumer criticized Paul for standing in the way of speedy approval of the massive aid package and argued that Washington has a “moral obligation” to help Ukraine fight Russian forces. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) also pushed for an immediate vote on the bill, but Paul’s objection meant passage would be delayed until next week at the earliest.
Paul argued that Americans are already “feeling the pain” of an inflation crisis, which he said was fueled by excessive deficit spending, “And Congress seems intent on just adding to that pain by pushing more money out the door as fast as they can.” added, “We cannot save Ukraine by condemning the American economy.”
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Kirby reiterated a request from the Pentagon to provide Ukraine with new funds by the third week of May. “Obviously, we continue to urge the Senate to act as quickly as possible so that we don’t get to the end of May and we don’t have additional authorities to turn to.”
Although the relief bill passed the House with the support of all Democrats and all but 57 Republicans, the vote revealed a growing split on the issue on the Republican side of the aisle. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) praised the bill as a way to finance a proxy war against Russia. “invest in the destruction of our adversary’s armed forces without losing a single American troop.”
Critics, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia), countered that sanctions against Russia are only exacerbating the US inflation crisis and that prioritizing aid to Ukraine distracts from more important domestic issues. “While you’re spending $40 billion on your proxy war against Russia, I’m focused on American baby formula.” he told Crenshaw.
Paul noted that the latest spending package will bring total US aid to Ukraine to $60 billion since the conflict began in February, almost as much as Russia allocates annually for its entire defense budget.