The Pentagon has said that the government shutdown that will happen if Congress doesn’t pass a funding bill by September 30 could hinder US support for Ukraine.
Pentagon spokesman Chris Sherwood told POLITICO that the Defense Department’s suspension of what is considered nonessential activities expected under a shutdown could interrupt “delivery of defense articles, services and/or military education and training” for Ukraine.
During government shutdowns, the US military typically stops activities that are deemed unnecessary for national security, including training. The Pentagon could issue exemptions for the Ukrainian training, but if not, the programs will be forced to stop, including the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16s that recently started inside the US.
Sherwood said that the Pentagon would still have access to funds to take weapons from military stockpiles for Ukraine, a program known as the Presidential Drawdown Authority. The Pentagon recently claimed billions became available in PDA for Ukraine due to an “accounting error” that overvalued weapons previously sent to the country, and Sherwood said those funds could be rolled into the next fiscal year, which starts on October 1.
But Sherwood said the actual deliveries could be stopped if the activity is suspended during the shutdown, regardless of whether or not there is funds for the weapons. The Pentagon would also not be able to dip into the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, a program that allows the US to purchase weapons for Ukraine.
A shutdown seems likely as Congress is at odds over a funding bill necessary to avert it. House Republicans put forward a short-term funding bill that would be opposed in the Democrat-controlled Senate since it does not include an additional $24 billion in spending on the war in Ukraine that the White House has requested.