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The latest on U.S. funding to Ukraine after this morning's airstrike

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

U.S. aid to Ukraine is dwindling even as the country recovers from that massive bombardment from Russia. A funding bill in Congress is currently stalled, and that means the weapons and money to send to Ukraine are running out. NPR's Ashley Lopez reports.

ASHLEY LOPEZ, BYLINE: Defense officials recently announced the U.S. will be sending Ukraine $250 million worth of air defense, artillery and anti-tank weapons, and they say it could be the last aid package unless Congress approves supplemental funding. Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned the situation was getting dire.

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ANTONY BLINKEN: There is no magic pot of money that we can draw from. The assistance, the support that we have designated for Ukraine - that is running out. It's running down. We are nearly out of money that we need, and we're nearly out of time.

LOPEZ: In a statement, DoD officials said this latest aid package was the 54th shipment of military equipment for Ukraine from U.S. inventory since August 2021. The latest round of spending sought by the Biden administration wouldn't just provide more support to Ukraine, but officials say it would also replenish the Pentagon's own stockpile. Here is Defense Department spokesperson Major General Pat Ryder.

PATRICK RYDER: We will have exhausted the funding available for us to provide security assistance to Ukraine. So it really does underscore the importance of congressional support for Ukraine.

LOPEZ: However, this funding bill has been stalled in Congress. Before lawmakers went home for the holidays, House speaker Mike Johnson told Fox News that the Republican caucus has been waiting for clarity on how this money would be used.

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MIKE JOHNSON: We've been asking the White House for a clear strategy that will allow Ukraine to prevail in this conflict, and they've not provided satisfactory answers. We need clarity on the oversight over the precious Treasury, the taxpayer dollars of the American citizens. And we need to know how that money is being spent and what the endgame is, and the White House has been completely unclear about that.

LOPEZ: Republicans in Congress have also told the White House they won't act on Ukraine funding until there is more money to secure the country's southern border. Because the two issues are intertwined for the foreseeable future, negotiations could be more complicated in the House. In the Senate, however, negotiations for a funding deal have continued through the holiday break, though no deal has been announced. Amid an escalation by Russia, this will be a top priority for lawmakers when they return to Washington in the new year. Ashley Lopez, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ashley Lopez
Ashley Lopez is a political correspondent for NPR based in Austin, Texas. She joined NPR in May 2022. Prior to NPR, Lopez spent more than six years as a health care and politics reporter for KUT, Austin's public radio station. Before that, she was a political reporter for NPR Member stations in Florida and Kentucky. Lopez is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and grew up in Miami, Florida.