Portion of US aid to Ukraine still unreleased: report

Portion of US aid to Ukraine still unreleased: report
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More than $35 million of the previously withheld U.S. aid to Ukraine has not yet been released, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A Pentagon spending document obtained by the newspaper reportedly showed that $35 million of the total $400 million in military aid designated for Ukraine is still in the possession of the U.S. Treasury Department.

A Pentagon spokeswoman confirmed to the Times that approximately $36 million of the aid is still in U.S. accounts, but declined to say why. Lt. Col. Carla Gleason added that it would be distributed “over the next several weeks.”

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The State Department, contacted by The Hill for a comment, referred the matter back to the Pentagon.

The Times noted that the administration lifted the hold on the Ukraine aid on Sept. 11 after a whistleblower complaint sparked the impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Trump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report George Conway on Trump adding Dershowitz, Starr to legal team: 'Hard to see how either could help' MORE and the deadline for spending it was originally set to expire on Sept. 30. Congress, however, extended the Pentagon's legal authority to allocate it for another year.

Pentagon officials had said more recently that the funds would be provided within weeks, but a portion of the money remains in U.S. possession. The aid was designated specifically for grenade launchers, secure communications and naval combat craft, the Times reported.

Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell, a Defense Department spokesperson, confirmed that Congress extended the deadline but said it did not "direct accelerated obligation" of the funds.

"The Department is nonetheless expediting the process of implementing the authorized assistance to Ukraine and is committed to obligating these funds as quickly as possible in accordance with contracting procedures as required by law," he said in an email statement.  

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He added that the funds would not go directly to Ukraine but instead to its military department and respective program office to distribute.

U.S. military aid to Ukraine plays a central role in the impeachment inquiry. Days after the administration withheld the assistance, Trump asked the Ukrainian president in a July phone call to investigate leading 2020 Democratic White House hopeful Joe BidenJoe BidenNYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina MORE and his son.

Republican lawmakers have defended the president throughout the inquiry, saying Ukraine ultimately received its aid, and Trump did not participate in extortion or bribery.