House lawmakers push back on Ukraine aid
WASHINGTON (CNN) — The White House is not going far enough in sending aid to Ukraine, say top Republicans and Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee in a letter to President Obama that was obtained by CNN.
Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, ranking Democrat Adam Smith and ten other key House Armed Services members wrote the president late Thursday night after the White House announced another round of non-lethal aid to Ukraine.
“Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine is now well underway,” the men wrote in their two-page letter, stressing that the U.S. needs to do something more to change the calculus of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The 300,000 MRE’s provided in March, and the other assistance announced by Secretary Hagel (Thursday), are helpful and promising, but are insufficient to cause this shift,” the congressmen wrote.
The letter specifically urges to White House to follow the recommendations of a recent nonpartisan report on Ukraine written by former NATO General Wesley Clark and defense strategy adviser Phillip Karber. That report advises that the U.S. send items that are non-lethal but which have important tactical value: things like night-vision goggles, body armor, communications devices and aviation fuel.
In their letter, the lawmakers express concern that the White House is not moving with enough urgency and that bureaucratic red tape may be delaying critical aid and decisions.
Going beyond recommendations, the House Armed Services committee is making an assertive oversight move as well. In Thursday’s letter, the members ask that the administration brief the committee on its efforts to assist Ukraine and on the overall situation in the region on Tuesday, April 29, the first full day that Congress will be back following its Passover and Easter recess.
By Lisa Desjardins