Bipartisan senators urge Trump administration to release Ukraine aid

Bipartisan senators urge Trump administration to release Ukraine aid
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A bipartisan group of senators asked the Trump administration to release $250 million in authorized military security assistance for Ukraine.

Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanWhy Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump GOP lawmakers fear Trump becoming too consumed by impeachment fight MORE (R-Ohio), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenOn The Money: US paid record .1B in tariffs in September | Dems ramp up oversight of 'opportunity zones' | Judge hints at letting House lawsuit over Trump tax returns proceed Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows Overnight Defense: Trump, Erdogan confirm White House meeting | Public impeachment hearings set for next week | Top defense appropriator retiring MORE (D-N.H.), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Democratic senators introduce bill to push ICE to stop 'overuse' of solitary confinement Pentagon watchdog declines to investigate hold on Ukraine aid MORE (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy White House releases rough transcript of early Trump-Ukraine call minutes before impeachment hearing Johnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens MORE (R-Wis.) wrote a letter Tuesday to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyNew witness claims firsthand account of Trump's push for Ukraine probes Trump files to dismiss lawsuit from Bolton aide on impeachment testimony OMB official to testify in impeachment probe if subpoenaed after others refused MORE after Politico reported that the administration was delaying the aid. 

They wrote that the funds have helped Ukraine develop its own military capabilities and maintain its sovereignty as it faces Russian attacks. 

"In fact, Ukraine continues to fight daily on its eastern border against Russia-backed separatists in the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, and over 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have lost their lives in this war," they wrote. "U.S.-funded security assistance has already helped turn the tide in this conflict, and it is necessary to ensure the protection of the sovereign territory of this young country, going forward."

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"This funding is crucial to the long term stability of Ukraine and has the continued backing and approval of the U.S. Congress which appropriated these funds. We strongly urge you to direct the Department of Defense to obligate these funds immediately," the senators added. 

A Defense Department spokesperson told The Hill that the U.S. was working with Ukraine's government and the Multinational Joint Commission to evaluate the specific needs of Ukraine's armed forces.

The spokesperson added that the department does not publicly comment on internal budget deliberations.

“The President has made no secret when it comes to foreign assistance that U.S. interests abroad should be prioritized,” a senior administration official told The Hill in a statement Wednesday. 

The Hill has reached out to the Office of Management and Budget for comment. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election MORE asked officials to review the funding to make sure that it is being used to further U.S. interests, Politico reported last week, citing a senior administration official. Those asked to review the funding reportedly include Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperHillicon Valley: Twitter shares more details on political ad rules | Supreme Court takes up Google-Oracle fight | Pentagon chief defends Microsoft cloud contract Overnight Defense: Ex-Ukraine ambassador offers dramatic day of testimony | Talks of 'crisis' at State Department | Trump tweets criticism of envoy during hearing | Dems warn against 'witness intimidation' | Trump defends his 'freedom of speech' Esper: Pentagon contract fairly awarded to Microsoft over Amazon MORE and national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonOfficial testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Top NSC aide puts Sondland at front lines of Ukraine campaign, speaking for Trump Highly irregular: Rudy, the president, and a venture in Ukraine MORE.

President Trump has recently faced scrutiny over statements about Russia. He said last month that he would he would "certainly" invite Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinOvernight Defense: Ex-Ukraine ambassador offers dramatic day of testimony | Talks of 'crisis' at State Department | Trump tweets criticism of envoy during hearing | Dems warn against 'witness intimidation' | Trump defends his 'freedom of speech' Highly irregular: Rudy, the president, and a venture in Ukraine Biden responds to North Korea: 'I wear their insults as a badge of honor' MORE to the next Group of Seven summit. Russia was expelled from what was then the Group of Eight because of its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.