Pentagon prepares to make ‘tough choices’ between US readiness and Ukraine support as funding package lingers

Pentagon officials urged Congress to approve a supplemental funding package on Thursday, because ultimately, they said, the money the Department of Defense can pull down quickly to support Ukraine will dwindle, forcing leaders to make tough choices about funding the U.S.’s own readiness.

Department of Defense spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters on Thursday that supplemental funding is necessary to provide additional support to Ukraine going into 2024.

“We’ve got about…$4.4 billion left, I think now, with the most [Presidential Drawdown Authority] and about $1 billion left in replenishment funds,” Ryder said. “Certainly, we do retain the option to spend the $4.4 [billion].

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“But these are tough choices, because ultimately, at the end of the day, we start to have to make decisions about our own readiness and about our ability to continue to support Ukraine in the way they need to be supported on the battlefield,” he added. “So, again, this is why we’re urging Congress to pass that supplemental [funding] as quickly as possible.”

Ryder opened up the press briefing saying the department applauds Congress’s passage of the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act.

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The legislation, he said, authorizes a 5.2% pay increase for service members and civilian employees in the Pentagon, while also providing investments in America’s national security and military to meet the challenges of the 21st century. But he called on Congress to do more.

“We continue to urge Congress to pass our urgent supplemental budget request to help stand by our partners and to invest in our defense industrial base,” Ryder said.

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As of Thursday, lawmakers had not reached a deal on the supplemental package.

Talks have been ongoing with senators and Biden administration officials this week, as Republicans have refused to pass some $60 billion in additional aid to Ukraine unless it is tied to strict border security measures, such as immediate screenings for asylum processing and quicker expulsions for illegal entrants. 

The total amount of supplemental aid the White House first requested in October amounts to roughly $106 billion and includes $14 billion to assist Israel. 

Fox News Digital’s Jamie Joseph contributed to this report.

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