U.S. Military Aid Bill Faces Hurdles in Congress

howitzers lined up near an air traffic control tower
U.S. Marine Corps M777 towed 155 mm howitzers destined for Ukraine

The U.S. Senate released a proposed $118 billion national security supplemental spending bill, stemming from the administration’s request last fall for new funding to support Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and U.S. border security efforts. The administration’s request has struggled to gain traction on the Hill. For one, the fate of the military aid is now tied to the status of the domestic border security measures in the bill, and Republicans have been pushing for strong border security provisions. Some have also expressed skepticism over providing continued aid to Ukraine without stipulations, and there have also been disagreements about the status of aid to Israel.

The bill has the bipartisan support of Senate leaders, but there are already 24 Senators that are likely to vote no on the legislation, according to Politico, including several Democrats. Even if the bill makes it through the Senate, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said the proposal would be “dead on arrival” in the House. Republicans in the House proposed a standalone bill for aid to Israel, which would leave out continued aid for Ukraine.

The Senate’s proposed supplemental includes $60 billion in total economic and military aid for Ukraine, including $48.43 billion in security assistance funding. Nearly 70 percent of the Ukraine military aid is intended for weapons and other military equipment, which the U.S. provides through two separate channels. The bill would provide $19.85 billion for the Pentagon to replenish equipment donated directly from U.S. inventory. Throughout 2023, Washington announced the donation of U.S. gear to Ukraine at least a couple times a month, but those donations came to a halt when replenishment coffers dried up. The last announcement of equipment donations was in December. Another $13.8 billion would be provided to procure weapons and munitions directly from U.S. manufacturers. Between these two funding pipelines, the proposed legislation would provide $33.65 billion for weapons and equipment for Kyiv through December 31, 2024. In addition to buying military hardware, the aid bill includes $14.8 billion for military training, intelligence sharing, and other support activities. The Pentagon’s Inspector General would receive $8 million to oversee the U.S. assistance to Ukraine to ensure the funding is properly implemented and weapons are delivered as intended.

The bill would provide $10.6 billion to aid Israel in its war against Hamas, including $4 billion for Israeli missile defense capabilities and $1.2 billion to procure the Iron Beam directed energy missile defense system. Another $2.44 billion would support U.S. operations in the U.S. Central Command area of operations, where U.S. forces have been responding to attacks from Iran-backed militants in Iraq and Syria and Houthi rebels attacking ships in the Red Sea in response to the Israel-Hamas war. Some of the CENTCOM funding would be used to replenish munitions used in those operations.

The legislation includes $2.58 billion to bolster the U.S. presence in the Indo-Pacific region and deter China. Specifically, that allotment of funding comprises $1.9 billion to replenish weapons provided to Taiwan, $542.2 million for unfunded requirements from Indo-Pacific Command, and $133 million to bolster the U.S. cruise missile industrial base. Another $3.3 billion would flow to the U.S. submarine industrial base to support the trilateral AUKUS partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. That funding would include continued drydock construction at public shipyards.

About Shaun McDougall

As editor of International Military Markets, North America, Shaun has cultivated a deep understanding of the vast defense markets in the United States and Canada. Shaun's perspective on defense procurement and budget issues has been cited in a variety of defense periodicals, including Defense News and National Defense Magazine. Further, Shaun played an integral role in the development of Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast product, which offers an unprecedented level of insight into the Pentagon's acquisition budget. In addition to providing original analytical content for the U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, Shaun oversees an internal defense budget forecasting process involving Forecast International's team of skilled systems analysts following release of the DoD's annual budget request. Shaun is also in charge of managing Forecast International's Weapons Inventory database.

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