If the House of Representatives fails to find a way to fund the government before the shutdown deadline at the end of the month, many services provided by the federal government to residents of the U.S. domestically and citizens overseas will cease, albeit temporarily.
U.S. aid to Ukraine, however, will continue, according to a statement from a Department of Defense spokesman Thursday that seemed to reverse the Pentagon’s position as communicated by the same spokesman only two days earlier.
“Operation Atlantic Resolve is an excepted activity under a government lapse in appropriations,” DOD spokesman Chris Sherwood said in a Thursday statement to Fox News, referring to the government’s name for the operation to support Ukraine in its defense against last year’s Russian invasion.
Only two days earlier, Sherwood had told Politico in an email that the looming government shutdown threatened to press pause on the “delivery of defense articles, services and/or military education and training” for the embattled European nation.
According to the DOD’s “Contingency Plan Guidance for Continuation of Essential Operations in the Absence of Available Appropriations,” a planning document created in August, all military operations “necessary for national security” would, understandably, be exempted from any shutdown.
In addition, “[t]he Secretary of Defense may, at any time, determine that additional activities shall be treated as excepted,” according to the document. (Interested readers will find the entire document available here.)
Apparently, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin designated Ukraine-related activities as excepted sometime between Sherwood’s Tuesday and Thursday statements.
Critics of President Joe Biden, 80, and his administration — mostly but not exclusively on the right — seemed unsurprised but nonetheless angry about the Pentagon’s shifting position.
Abigail Jackson, the communications director for Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, called the decision “incredibly offensive,” for example.
“Enough of the insanity already,” Florida Rep. Anna Paulina Luna told Fox News in a statement published Friday. “Seems like Biden fell asleep on the train and got off at Ukraine instead of America. I don’t even know if he recognizes which country he’s leading, he’s so hellbent on sending every possible dollar to a country that we have no stake in while our own implodes.”
“I have zero interest in funding an eternal WWIII and that’s the last thing Americans want,” she wrote.
“You can’t make this up,” Luna added on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
You can’t make this up. https://t.co/odwVaIVD1f
— Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (@RepLuna) September 22, 2023
Others were just as troubled by the news.
How is this even legally possible? https://t.co/c9sgLFPTTf
— Mayra Flores (@MayraFlores_TX) September 22, 2023
Even if Congress doesn’t appropriate money, the Pentagon will keep funding Ukraine. As I’ve said, we do not have a representative government. We have not had one for a while. We have an oligarchy with the ornamentation of representative government. https://t.co/G6k8D7joJJ
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) September 22, 2023
The Biden administration thinks funding the protection of Ukraine’s border is more “essential” than our own. https://t.co/vylYMojlqL
— Rep. Tom Tiffany (@RepTiffany) September 22, 2023
Well this just says it all doesn’t it.. https://t.co/9cE6LOQcas
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (@RepMTG) September 21, 2023
The announcement came out on the same day that 29 Republican members of the House and Senate signed a letter addressed to Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young informing here that they would not support further Ukrainian aid unless a number of questions were answered first — and possibly not even then.
“The American people deserve to know what their money has gone to,” the letter said.
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