Shalanda Young, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, speaks to the media during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 29, 2023.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
President Joe Biden’s top budget official warned in stark terms Friday about the rapidly diminishing time lawmakers have to replenish U.S. aid to Ukraine, as the fate of that money for Kiev remains tied to the immigration negotiations where an agreement has so far not been reached. reach.
Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget, stressed that there is no way to help Ukraine outside of Congress approving additional funding to help Kiev fend off the Russia in a war that has now lasted almost two years. Although the Pentagon has limited authority to help kyiv in the absence of new funding from Capitol Hill, “it’s not going to allow large tranches of equipment to be flown to Ukraine,” Young said Friday.
Read more about Russia’s war against Ukraine:
Although the administration still has the presidential withdrawal authority, which allows it to remove weapons from existing U.S. stockpiles and send them quickly to Ukraine, officials decided to relinquish that authority because Congress did not approved additional funds to essentially replenish that equipment — a move Young said was a “very difficult decision.” The United States sent a $250 million arms package to Ukraine late last month, which officials said was likely the last due to lack of funding.
Young also detailed the impact a lack of additional U.S. aid would have on Ukraine beyond its military capabilities, such as allowing Kiev to pay its civil servants to ensure its government can continue to operate despite the blockade. of Russia.
“Yes, Kiev might have some time with other donors to make sure that they can maintain their war position, maintain the civil service, but what will happen in (the European Union) and among other NATO allies, what if the United States withdraws its support?'” Young said at a breakfast with reporters hosted Friday by the Christian Science Monitor. “I am very concerned that Kiev not only needs US resources to stop Putin. The question is: what message does this send to the rest of the world? And what will their decisions be if they see the United States The States are not stepping up to the plate?”
Young, a congressional budget veteran, added that the situation was “dire” and that “we’re certainly past my comfort level” in the time that has passed since Congress green-lighted a new financing for Ukraine. Biden requested a smaller tranche of new aid to Ukraine in September, but then addressed Congress in late October with a broad national security spending request that included about $60 billion in new funding for Ukraine .
That request from Biden also included about $14 billion to manage and care for the high number of migrants who continue to arrive at the southern border, and the president said he was willing to negotiate with Republicans to agree to certain policy changes that would strengthen asylum and other migration laws — a key demand of GOP lawmakers.
Further complicating the dynamic is that Washington faces two deadlines – the first on January 19, the second on February 2 – to fund the federal government or risk a shutdown at the start of the presidential election year. Top lawmakers have yet to reach overall spending figures for each federal agency, a necessary step before broader bills funding the government can even be drafted.
Young said she’s not yet pessimistic, but “I’m not optimistic” about the chances of avoiding a shutdown in the coming weeks because of stark new warnings from House Republicans, including dozens visited the border this week with President Mike Johnson. , that they were prepared to shut down the government if they didn’t get enough concessions on border policy from the White House.
“The rhetoric this week has me concerned that this is the path that House Republicans are taking, although I will say that I think leadership is working in good faith to prevent a shutdown,” Young said.
Asked if the emergency spending request with Ukraine should be passed before legislation to fund the government, Young added: “I’ll take it any way they can pass it. I mean, beggars should not choose. And I will accept it, how they can adopt it. It is enough that it be adopted.