Defense

Austin, Blinken ask Congress for Ukraine money by May 19

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have asked Congress to pass additional appropriations in order to further assist U.S. efforts to aid Ukraine by May 19. 

In a letter to House and Senate leadership shared with The Hill, Austin and Blinken said the administration needs the money by then “if we are to continue are security assistance at the current pace.”

The officials said that they expected the $3.5 billion in drawdown authority that was passed in March as part of the $1.5 trillion government funding bill to be exhausted later this month.

“In short, we need your help. The ability to draw upon existing DoD [Department of Defense] stocks has been a critical tool in our efforts to support the Ukrainians in their fight against Russian aggression, allowing us to quickly source equipment and ensure a sustained flow of security assistance to Ukraine,” the officials wrote.

“As a result, we urge you to act quickly on the Administration’s request for supplemental appropriations, including the authorization of additional funding for drawdowns,” they continued. “Doing so before May 19, 2022 will allow us to provide uninterrupted critical military support to our Ukrainian partners.”

The House is scheduled to consider a supplemental package for Ukraine aid on Tuesday, according the chamber’s schedule. The letter comes after Democrats proposed a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine that will now be split from additional COVID-19 pandemic funding also sought by the administration that has stalled in Congress this year.

The proposed supplemental is higher than the $33 billion that Biden announced in late April but would include an additional $3.4 billion for military and humanitarian assistance.

Earlier on Monday, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters that between Biden’s announcement of a $150 million assistance package to Ukraine and the remaining $100 million in drawdown authority, the administration will be able to continue the flow of weapons to Ukraine until about “the third week of this month.”

The letter from Blinken and Austin was sent to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Austin and Blinken noted in their letter that the administration has committed more than $4.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine in 2021.

“Thank you again for your extraordinary support of our efforts to help Ukraine,” the secretaries said. “It sends a clear message to Ukraine, to Russia, and to the world that the United States stands with the Ukrainian people in their struggle to defend their democracy.”

Tags Antony Blinken Lloyd Austin

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