White House Considers State Department Grants for Ukraine Weaponry

Biden’s team explores creative solutions to fund Ukraine’s defense in the face of Congressional funding delays.

President Biden and President Zelensky during a visit to Kyiv in February.
President Biden and President Zelensky during a visit to Kyiv in February. Photo: AFP

Washington, D.C., October 6, 2023 – In the midst of ongoing debates in Congress over funding for weapons to support Ukraine, the Biden Administration is actively exploring alternative avenues to bridge the gap and ensure Ukraine’s defense needs are met.

As of today, October 6, 2023, the situation surrounding Ukraine’s funding for essential weaponry has become increasingly critical. To address this, the Biden administration is considering leveraging a State Department grant mechanism specially designed to provide support to foreign governments for the acquisition of US defense equipment, military training, or related services under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.

President Biden himself hinted at this strategy during recent discussions. “There is another means by which we may be able to find funding for that,” he stated, though specifics were not provided.

A senior White House official shed light on the President’s comments, noting that they pertained to “existing funding authorities” granted to the administration by Congress, which could be employed to offer extended support to Ukraine if Congress remains deadlocked on this issue.

As of September 21, 2023, the United States had approximately $650 million remaining from the $4.6 billion in foreign military financing that Congress approved for two supplementary packages aimed at assisting Ukraine, according to the State Department.

While this allocation could temporarily sustain crucial support for Ukraine, it would only provide a short-term solution. The possibility of reallocating funds from other sections of the Pentagon’s budget is also under consideration, but this would necessitate approval from US lawmakers.

In an unusual move, in August of this year, the administration sanctioned a military transfer to Taiwan through the foreign military financing program, which is typically reserved for sovereign states.

Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, the press secretary for the Department of Defense (DoD), emphasized that “reprogramming is always an option for urgent needs.” He further stated the DoD’s commitment to collaborate with Congress on the Ukraine supplemental packages and secure a complete budget.

Just one week ago, the Pentagon sent a cautionary letter to lawmakers, warning that the DoD had “nearly depleted all available security assistance funding for Ukraine.” Despite this, there still remained $1.6 billion allocated within the budget for replenishing US weapons inventories.

President Biden voiced his concern about the potential exhaustion of funding required to support Ukraine but expressed confidence in bipartisan support within the House and Senate for funding Ukraine’s defense efforts.

On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (Democrat, New York) disclosed ongoing efforts to work alongside Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) in order to secure substantial funding for Ukraine.

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In summary, the Biden Administration is actively exploring various options to ensure Ukraine’s defense remains adequately funded, even as the debate in Congress continues. The situation is fluid, and the administration is determined to find innovative solutions to support Ukraine’s defense efforts.

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