Debt-Limit Deal Won’t Restrict US Ability to Fund Ukraine

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Debt-Limit Deal Won’t Restrict US Ability to Fund Ukraine
Credit: © Reuters.

(Bloomberg) -- The bipartisan deal to avert a debt default won’t constrain the Biden administration’s ability to provide more aid for Ukraine, a White House official said, as the US looks to reassure Kyiv that weapons will keep flowing.

Any additional military assistance for Kyiv would move through Congress in a supplemental measure that won’t be subject to the deal’s caps on federal spending, according to the official, who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations.

That statement will be welcome news for President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and US allies in Europe amid concern that the debt fight in the US might slow or halt the flow of weapons, ammunition and other high-tech assistance for Ukrainian forces. The compromise measure now working its way through Congress would increase defense spending by 3.3%.

Earlier: Biden, McCarthy Work Lawmakers to Pass Deal as US Default Looms

It’s unclear if and when the White House may ask Congress for more Ukraine funding. In December, President Joe Biden signed into law a $45 billion aid package for Ukraine as part of a year-end spending bill. Administration officials have said that should provide enough money to last until the end of this fiscal year in September. 

According to the State Department, the US has delivered $36.9 billion in security assistance since the start of Russia’s invasion in February 2022. 

The White House and Republican leaders in Congress are pushing lawmakers to approve the agreement before the June 5 deadline, when the Treasury Department says the US will run out of cash to pay its debts. Similar carve-outs were made for certain US funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan when across-the-board spending cuts were imposed in 2013 as a result of a debt-limit agreement. 

The budget bill creates a $886 billion cap on defense spending in fiscal year 2024. The figure would rise to $895 billion in fiscal 2025. Those limits are more than $100 billion higher than the caps on non-defense domestic spending.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.

© Bloomberg. The US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, May 30, 2023. The debt-limit agreement forged by President Biden and the House Speaker heads into a crucial final stretch with less than a week to win congressional passage before a June 5 default deadline.

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