Leading Republicans call on watchdog to review economic aid to Ukraine

Leading Republicans call on watchdog to review economic aid to Ukraine

Top Republicans overseeing foreign affairs are asking an independent congressional watchdog to provide detailed information on the Biden administration’s provision of economic and humanitarian support to Ukraine.

The request comes amid growing pressure within the GOP to cut or audit the administration’s aid to Ukraine, an effort that has raised concerns about continued support for the war-torn country.

In a letter sent Thursday to the Government Accountability Office, top Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Armed Services Committee said they were seeking information on how the administration monitors nearly $14.9 billion in funds disbursed through the US Agency for International Development.

The letter responds to criticisms that have been raised by GOP lawmakers Sen. Jim Risch (Idaho) and Rep. Michael McCaul (Texas) that USAID has been too slow to disburse the funds provided.

“It is imperative that USAID and the Department of State continue to work with haste to use these funds to meet the urgent needs of the people of Ukraine,” the lawmakers wrote.

“In doing so, it will be important for agencies to coordinate with the international donor community, allied and partner governments, the Ukrainian government, and local Ukrainian organizations to ensure that U.S. assistance does not duplicate other efforts, but is rather well targeted for where the need is greatest.

The call for oversight echoes concerns and criticism from Republicans that greater scrutiny is needed to fully account for U.S. assistance to Ukraine. Critics range from GOP lawmakers who say they support continued US aid to Kyiv, to those who advocate cutting funding to Ukraine in general.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) rejected any aid to Ukraine and called for a full audit of the U.S. support that has been provided. A resolution to establish the audit was defeated by the Democratic-led House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, but garnered support from Republican members of the panel.

McCaul, who is the likely chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee when Republicans take control of the House in January, did not say whether he would support Greene’s resolution if it were reintroduced, but told The Hill that he was working on drafting legislation strengthening surveillance. .

“I think it’s more useful to have a more transparent view,” he said when asked if he would support Green’s resolution.

“We haven’t had a single hearing on Ukraine since February 24, in my committee,” McCaul added. “We’re going to be generally supportive of the idea, we need more information on that. I will probably have a bill that I will pass, to provide that.

Yet he spoke out in favor of aid to Ukraine.

“I think for the amount of money we put into this, to demoralize and defeat the Russian army…throughout Ukraine, without one of our soldiers, not a single American soldier was put in there or died, to me that’s a good investment.”

The Ukrainian government has pleaded for economic and humanitarian support, arguing that it is as essential as military support. The United States is one of Ukraine’s main donors.

Funds pledged by USAID include $13 billion in direct support to Ukraine that has enabled the country to purchase humanitarian goods and pay the salaries of civil servants, school workers and hospital workers. Funds have also been earmarked for social services.

USAID also pledged $667 million in economic and food security assistance and $1.3 billion in humanitarian assistance.

Independent analysis estimates that about 60% of US funds have been disbursed, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy’s Ukraine Support Tracker.

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