Who’s Keeping an Eye on $40 Billion in Ukraine Aid?

Who’s Keeping an Eye on $40 Billion in Ukraine Aid?

Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

Congress quickly passed a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine in May, but according to a report at Politico, worries about how well that money is being monitored and spent could delay future efforts to assist the war-torn country.

“Concerns are mounting on Capitol Hill about the Biden administration’s ability to properly account for the unprecedented wave of cash and to track the thousands of U.S. weapons heading to Ukraine for its war with Russia,” Politico’s Andrew Desiderio, Lara Seligman and Connor O’Brien write.

The concerns are coming from both sides of the aisle. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) briefly delayed the aid package in a failed effort to appoint a dedicated inspector general to oversee the spending, and eventually joined 10 other GOP senators in voting against the bill.

Far to Paul’s left, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) also wants to see a full accounting of how the aid is used. “The U.S. government is sending billions in humanitarian, economic, and military assistance to help the Ukrainian people overcome Putin’s brutal war, and the American people expect strong oversight by Congress and full accounting from the Department of Defense,” she told Politico in an email. Warren added that she was not pleased with the information provided by the Pentagon so far, charging that the department “has not complied with the law” by failing to provide full reports on various issues for years.

Some protections in place: The aid package does include provisions related to oversight. It requires the Pentagon inspector general’s office to review the spending, and it calls on the State Department to work with the Pentagon to report to Congress on how weapons are being transferred to Ukraine.

A Pentagon spokesperson told Politico that the department is “committed” to being open and transparent, but also noted that war always involves uncertainty. “Risk of diversion is one of many considerations that we routinely assess when evaluating any potential arms transfer,” Marine Corps Lt. Col. Anton Semelroth said.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), who sits on the Armed Services Committee, said that while military aid has been siphoned off in some places, “Ukraine is a different story” due to the long-standing relationship between the two countries. “Obviously, we always have to be on the lookout, but this is not the same scenario that we have in the past,” he said. “There have been agreements between our governments about [some of the weapons’] usage. And I believe so far Ukraine has abided by all of them.”