Sen. King: Concerns about oversight on U.S. aid to Ukraine don't hold water
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) on Sunday told CBS News' "Face the Nation" he does not believe concerns over a lack of accountability and oversight on U.S. military aid to Ukraine hold water.
Why it matters: King, who along with Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) recently traveled to Kyiv and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said Ukrainians are aware that a scandal over the military assistance would "kill our ability to support you."
- King also said Ukraine is working with London-based accounting firm Deloitte and with software from SAP to help record and keep track of the military assistance it receives.
By the numbers: The U.S. has sent Ukraine $24.2 billion worth of security assistance since the beginning of Russia's invasion almost a year ago.
- Most of the assistance has been in the form of physical defense articles, including Stinger missiles or, more recently, Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, transferred from the Department of Defense's inventories through presidential drawdowns.
What they're saying: "I spent a lot of time in Kyiv on accountability," King said Sunday.
- "In fact, sitting across from President Zelensky, just as you and I are, I asked him point blank: 'What's the status of accountability? If there's a scandal, it's going to kill our ability to support you,'" King told host Margaret Brennan.
- "He understands that. And then later, we had a meeting with many of their defense officials and their finance people. They're working with Deloitte, the accounting firm. They're working with SAP software."
- "They're accounting for every spare part that's coming into the country, plus, we have an inspector general from the Pentagon who's going over, I think, next month."
- "I was very impressed by the level of accountability, and so this argument that somehow the money's being wasted, I don't think holds water."
The big picture: Many Republicans, who retook the House and elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as speaker last week, have demanded more accountability and oversight on assistance sent to Ukraine, while other members of the party have advocated for ceasing additional aid altogether.
- Among the concessions McCarthy offered to Republican holdouts to break the stalemate over his campaign for speaker last week was to cap discretionary spending at fiscal 2022 levels or lower, which would amount to around a $75 billion, or 10%, cut to defense programs, according to Politico.
- The cut to defense programs could, by extension, damage the U.S.' ability to support Ukraine against Russia’s unprovoked invasion, though such cuts would also have to be approved by the Democratic-led Senate.
- McCarthy, before becoming speaker, said a Republican-controlled House would either reduce or end funding to Ukraine, saying in an interview with Punchbowl News in October that Americans are "not going to write a blank check to Ukraine."
- The fissure over Ukrainian military assistance within the Republican Party, along with other internal disagreements, and the power concessions McCarthy offered to rank-and-file representatives have the potential to stymie the House and the federal government as a whole, Axios' Erin Doherty reports.