An Ominous Signal from the U.S. on War Funding
Author: Greg Valliere
December 5, 2023
UKRAINE AND OTHER U.S. ALLIES are facing an ominous signal from Washington, as money for the war runs low and Congress stalls on more funding. And there are signs of a new front in the Middle East war, as tensions rise in the Red Sea.
THE FIRST PRIORITY IS GETTING MOVEMENT on legislation to provide $61 billion to Ukraine. That bill may get a procedural vote tomorrow in the Senate, but as of now there isn’t sufficient support, because lawmakers want to add provisions to curb illegal immigration along the U.S.-Texas border.
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER wants a Ukraine vote this week. Even if he fails, which is likely, it would send a signal that a crisis looms. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will brief Senators in private today, pleading for more funding.
EVEN IF THE SENATE passes an aid bill by late this week, final approval in the House isn’t imminent. House speaker Mike Johnson insists on immigration and asylum reform, and time is running out for a comprehensive bill this year.
ADJOURNMENT IS SCHEDULED FOR NEXT FRIDAY, Dec. 15, although that target could slip. Our bottom line is that funding for Ukraine and Israel is likely to pass but perhaps not until early January, sending a signal to U.S. allies and adversaries that an anti-spending mood — combined with growing isolationism — is gaining momentum in Congress, which is what Vladimir Putin has been hoping for all along.
THE WHITE HOUSE warned congressional leaders on Monday that the U.S. would run out of money to send weapons to Ukraine by year’s end, although some experts think Ukraine will have enough money and weapons to stagger through the winter.
GRIM ASSESSMENT: “Cutting off the flow of U.S. weapons and equipment will kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield, not only putting at risk the gains Ukraine has made, but increasing the likelihood of Russian military victories,” a White House spokeswoman said yesterday.
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THIS STALEMATE ON UKRAINE COMES AS TENSIONS RISE IN THE RED SEA: —
FRESH AGGRESSION IN THE RED SEA from Iranian surrogates are a most unwelcome development, as another front in the Mideast threatens to widen the Israeli-Hamas war. After drone strikes on ships in the Red Sea, defense experts said there was no doubt that Iran was behind the attacks. There were several distress calls as missiles and drones hit three separate commercial vessels.
THE U.S. DID NOT APPEAR TO HIT BACK, prompting grumbling from defense hawks in Washington. The last thing that Joe Biden’s administration needs is an overt conflict between Israel and Iran, with U.S. air strikes.
IRAN, THE VILLIAN: There’s no question that Iran has funded Hamas and Hezbollah, and there’s a strong belief in the U.S. intelligence community that Tehran is close to producing a crude nuclear bomb. Washington hawks, headed by John Bolton, want “regime change” in Iran but that seems unlikely.
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