White House on Ukraine: 'We are out of money'

By Tony Bertuca / December 4, 2023 at 5:09 PM

The White House is warning Congress it doesn't have a "magical pot of money" available to continue U.S. military assistance to Ukraine amid an ongoing war with Russia and is urging lawmakers to pass President Biden's $106 billion security supplemental spending package.

"I want to be clear: without congressional action, by the end of the year we will run out of resources to procure more weapons and equipment for Ukraine and to provide equipment from U.S. military stocks," White House Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young wrote in a recent letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA).

"There is no magical pot of funding available to meet this moment,” she said. “We are out of money -- and nearly out of time."

The Pentagon has said it has about $5 billion remaining in presidential “drawdown” authority that it can use to send weapons to Ukraine but only $1 billion to replenish them, thereby increasing risks to U.S. military readiness.

Congress has already approved more than $110 billion for Ukraine since Russia's February 2022 invasion. But lawmakers, beset by intra-GOP chaos, have not approved any new funding since January.

Biden, as part of a large supplemental spending request, is seeking an additional $61 billion for Ukraine. Funds are also being sought for efforts related to Israel, Taiwan, the U.S. submarine industrial base and southwest border security.

Young, in her letter, points out that Biden’s request would bolster the U.S. defense industrial base, highlighting potential investments in Alabama, Texas and Georgia -- states dominated by Republican voters.

“The President’s most recent national security supplemental request will build on our successful efforts to date and will direct over $50 billion into our nation’s DIB, which builds on the funding that has already been invested in manufacturing lines across 35 states,” she said. “While we cannot predict exactly which U.S companies will be awarded new contracts, we do know the funding will be used to acquire advanced capabilities to defend against attacks on civilians in Israel and Ukraine -- for example, air defense systems built in Alabama, Texas and Georgia and vital subcomponents sourced from nearly all 50 states.”

Young said the administration, through replenishment of munitions being sent to Ukraine, “intends to modernize vital munitions and equipment like Javelins made in Alabama; Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) made in West Virginia, Arkansas and Texas; tactical vehicles made in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana; and 155mm artillery shells made in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Iowa and many other states.”

An infographic obtained by Inside Defense last week shows DOD’s plans to spend billions in requested supplemental funding on the replacement of "priority" weapon systems that have been transferred to Ukraine, along with identifying U.S. states where DOD would invest in the expansion of manufacturing capacity.

The infographic is being circulated on Capitol Hill by the White House in an attempt to garner GOP support for the supplemental spending request.

Meanwhile, DOD has also drafted a first-ever defense industrial base strategy which states today’s defense industrial base -- as highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic and DOD’s work to aid Ukraine and Israel -- "does not possess the capacity, capability, responsiveness, or resilience required to satisfy the full range of military production needs at speed and scale."

Congress, however, has been unable to agree to a full-year appropriations deal and the Defense Department, along with some other federal agencies, is operating under a funding patch set to expire Feb. 2.

But Young, in her letter, said that funding Ukraine’s fight against Russia “isn’t a next year problem.”

“The time to help a democratic Ukraine fight against Russian aggression is right now,” she said. “It is time for Congress to act.”