Draft of House Defense Bill Includes $450 Million for 'Ukraine Security Assistance'
14:16 GMT 20.06.2022 (Updated: 20:37 GMT 19.10.2022)
Taxpayers in NATO countries have been asked to shell out tens of billions of dollars for military aid to Ukraine, with the US alone pledging some $54 billion in support - equivalent to more than four/fifths of Russia's 2021 defense budget.
The House of Representatives has proposed granting Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin the authority to provide up to $450 million in security and intelligence assistance to Ukraine in fiscal year 2023 - $150 million more than the amount previously requested
by the White House.
The bill "includes $450 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which provides support and assistance to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, an increase of $150 million above the budget request," the House Armed Services Committee said in a document released Monday, summarizing its 547-page Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Bill.
Other Ukraine-related measures in the bill include the requirement for "updated security strategies" for US non-NATO European partners, and quarterly briefings to Congress on efforts to replenish stocks of tactical missiles given to Kiev by the US and its allies.
The legislation also requires the dozens of US bases dotting Europe to "adopt installation energy plans to increase energy resiliency and sustainability in order to reduce reliance on" Russian energy, and asks the Pentagon to set a formal goal to eventually eliminate "their use of Russian energy entirely."
The bill further proposes "reporting on efforts by the Russian Federation to expand its presence and malign influence in Latin America and the Caribbean," and on the operations of Russian private military contractors in Africa, plus any efforts by Moscow to build naval bases on the continent.
As for China, along with a $6 billion funding package for a 'Pacific Defense Initiative', the bill calls for an assessment of any "dual-use technology that the Chinese Communist Party might exploit," and "policy solutions that align with the National Defense Strategy." Additionally, it proposes an assessment of fuel distribution in the Indo-Pacific, calls for enhanced defense cooperation with US partners in the region, marks a formal expression of "congressional support for the US defense relationship with Taiwan," and requires the head of US Indo-Pacific Command to brief Congress on "support and sustainment for critical capabilities necessary to meet operational requirements in a conflict."
"Strategic competitors like Beijing and Moscow have threatened the security, freedom, and prosperity of people living around the world by seeking to erode the rules-based international order. This mark supports investments in the alliances and partnerships that the United States needs to meet these challenges, including more than $6 billion in funding for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and nearly $4 billion for the European Deterrence Initiative," House Armed Services Committee chairman Adam Smith said in a statement
The House Armed Services Committee is proposing setting aside a total of $772 billion for the 2023 defense budget, while its Senate counterpart is prepared to authorize $817 billion - $45 billion more than President Biden has requested.
National Defense Authorization bills are typically adopted at the close of each calendar year after a series of revisions and negotiations to align their House and Senate versions, with the 'fiscal year' beginning and ending each October.
American pundits from both the Left
and the Right
have criticized the White House and Congress for lavishing Ukraine with tens of billions in security assistance while "ignoring" domestic problems such as inflation, gas prices, homelessness, and other issues. A minority of House Republicans also expressed opposition to the $40 billion aid bill approved by Congress last month out of concerns that a Russia-US "proxy war" in Ukraine could spin out of control.
"If we're gonna have a proxy war, and we're gonna give $40 billion to Ukraine because we wanna look all fancy with our blue and yellow ribbons and feel good about ourselves, maybe we should actually have a debate in this chamber, a debate in this body, because the American people expect us to do that," Texas Republican representative Chip Roy said on the floor of the House last month. 11 GOP senators and 57 Republican members of the House of Representatives, most of them from the so-called 'Trump wing' of the party, voted against the Ukraine aid package last month.