White House mulls using State Dept funds for Kyiv aid- report
US President Joe Biden. Photo: Presidential Office of Ukraine

The Biden administration is considering using a State Department grant program to send additional military aid to Ukraine as Congress continues to battle over weapons funding, two US officials told Politico.

Earlier this week, House speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted following a dissent from the far-right wing in his Republican party, which accused the speaker of a ‘secret deal’ with the White House to give aid to Ukraine—something they have vehemently opposed.

The House of Representatives will not be able to approve new aid to Ukraine until it elects a new speaker, which has caused worrying in Kyiv.

Consequently, the White House is weighing a range of options as it scrambles to find additional money to support Ukraine after lawmakers stripped funding in a last-minute deal to avert a government shutdown.

US president Joe Biden hinted at this strategy on Wednesday, saying "there is another means by which we may be able to find funding for that," without elaborating.

One of the US officials told Politico that Mr Biden’s comments referred to "existing funding authorities" Congress previously gave the administration "that allow us to provide additional support to Ukraine for a bit longer if Congress doesn’t act."

One option under consideration is using foreign military financing—a program run by the State Department that provides grants or loans to help partner countries purchase weapons and defence equipment—intended for Ukraine and other countries impacted by Russia’s full-scale invasion.

As of 21 September, the US had roughly USD 650 million remaining out of USD 4.6 billion in foreign military financing that Congress appropriated across two supplemental packages for Ukraine and "countries impacted by the situation in Ukraine".

However, even if the US uses the financing authority to purchase weapons, Congress still needs to authorise additional funding to support Ukraine, the US official told Politico.

Another option for the Biden administration is asking Congress to redirect funding from elsewhere in the Pentagon budget to support Ukraine—which, again, would require approval from lawmakers as well.

Pentagon spokesperson Pat Ryder said no decision had been made on what route the department will take.

The US is by far the largest donor of military and financial support for Ukraine, having provided approximately USD 45 billion in military equipment since Russia’s full-scale invasion last February.

The Pentagon has warned it is running out of money to plan for further donations, with only USD 1.6 billion left of the USD 25.9 billion Congress provided to replenish US military stocks that have been flowing to Ukraine.