President Joe Biden’s new request for $1.3 billion in supplemental aid to Ukraine is setting up a showdown in the House of Representatives, with some wary of committing the U.S. to another financial commitment without more information and oversight.
The request, which the Biden administration submitted to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, comes as the country continues to battle Russia and Russian-backed forces in the Donbass region. While congressional Democrats are broadly supportive of the measure, some Republicans and progressive Democrats are wary of sending additional aid without additional congressional oversight or guarantees of better accountability.
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) on Wednesday said he was concerned about the additional funds, which come amid a $735 billion defense budget that he said was already insufficient. “Whether it’s Ukraine, whether it’s Afghanistan, whether it’s Iraq, whether it’s any other place, I think we have to be very cautious about shoveling money out the door without a very robust process for actually ensuring that the money is going to be used properly,” he said.
Meanwhile, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) voiced similar trepidation to the president’s request, arguing that “we must be certain that U.S. taxpayer dollars are protected and are not being pilfered, mismanaged, or otherwise stolen.”
Biden’s aides have defended the supplemental request, saying that it is necessary to ensure that Ukraine is “properly equipped and resourced to counter Russian aggression and protect its territorial integrity.” They also insist that the funds will be properly monitored. Still, some in Congress have argued that the aid package should come with more strings attached, such as tougher accountability measures.