The White House is asking Congress for an additional $24bn in Ukraine aid “and other international needs” such as countering China, including $13.1bn for defense, senior administration officials revealed on Thursday.
The US has so far given Ukraine more than $113bn in aid since Russia invaded in February 2021, making it Ukraine’s biggest funder in its defense against Russia.
The extra funds would push total supplemental funding allocated by the US defense department for Ukraine to around $60bn to date, comprised of $43.9bn for security assistance and $18.4bn for military, intelligence, and other defense support, an administration official told the Guardian. Within the latest request for supplemental funds to Ukraine, the US is asking for $200m to counter the Russian mercenary Wagner group in African countries.
Kevin McCarthy, the Republican speaker of the House, has previously expressed he would not back supplemental funding to Ukraine that would push defense spending above the total negotiated in the deal to avert a national default. That deal capped national security spending for the fiscal year ending 30 September 2024 at $886bn.
“We don’t know how much longer this war is going to go on, or how much more assistance we might need to support Ukraine,” a senior administration official said on a call with reporters on Thursday. “We won’t be bashful about going back to Congress beyond the first quarter of next year if we feel like we need to do that.”
Republicans have been divided over Ukraine aid, with some vehemently opposingadditional support while others say spending is not enough. Republican presidential candidates in 2024 Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida, have been among the loudest detractors of increasing defense spending on Ukraine.
In a letter to McCarthy, Shalanda Young, director of the US Office of Management and Budget – which administers the federal budget – wrote that the supplemental funds are necessary to support Ukraine and other vulnerable groups impacted by the war.
“As the impacts of Russia’s war reverberate around the globe, the United States is committed to maintaining strong global opposition to Russia’s illegal war. At the same time, it is essential that we offer a credible alternative to the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) coercive and unstable lending and infrastructure projects for developing countries around the world,” Young wrote.
Young also pushed Congress to swifty authorize funding to uphold agreements with three Pacific Island nations, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau, which allow the US military access to key bases near China in the Pacific Ocean in exchange for aid and other benefits.
The request, which totals around $40bn, also asks Congress to appropriate $12bn for disaster relief and about $4bn for managing the Southwest border, including combating the trade of illicit drugs, namely fentanyl. It allocates $60m to support pay increases for wildland firefighters as the US has seen a jump in extreme weather events.