White House Warns Congress That Weapons Money for Ukraine Will Run Out

The White House warned on Monday that the United States would run out of money to send weapons to Ukraine by the end of the year if Congress does not approve additional emergency support for the war that has been snarled by funding debates.

The warning, delivered in a blunt letter to the House speaker, Mike Johnson, was the latest Biden administration salvo against a growing number of Republicans who say they are weary of shouldering the costs and political capital of a war that could grind on for years.

So far, Congress has authorized $111 billion for Ukraine and critical U.S. national security needs, according to Shalanda D. Young, the White House’s budget director. In October, the administration asked for an additional $61.4 billion to continue helping the government in Kyiv stave off Russia.

But she said about 60 percent of the money approved so far — $67 billion — remained in the United States, largely to bolster American weapons manufacturers that have ramped up production over the last year to meet Ukraine’s insatiable demand.

Without more money to buy and supply additional weapons, Ms. Young said, the loss in American assistance “will kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield, not only putting at risk the gains Ukraine has made, but increasing the likelihood of Russian military victories.”

“We are out of money — and nearly out of time,” Ms. Young wrote in the letter, which was also sent to Hakeem Jeffries, the top House Democrat, and the Senate’s two Democratic and Republican leaders.

She added: “This isn’t a next year problem. The time to help a democratic Ukraine fight against Russian aggression is right now.”

With the U.S. presidential election less than a year away, and as voters shift their attention to domestic issues, Republicans have increasingly used the war in Ukraine as a political cudgel against the Biden administration. House Republicans refused to include war funding in a stopgap spending bill last month to avoid a government shutdown, and while Congress generally supports stepping up the pace of military aid to Israel in its conflict with Hamas militants, G.O.P. lawmakers are divided on whether to give more assistance to Ukraine as the war drags on.

Mr. Johnson is leading Republicans who now want the Biden administration to stem the number of migrants entering by tightening U.S. borders in exchange for more funding for Ukraine.

“The Biden administration has failed to substantively address any of my conference’s legitimate concerns about the lack of a clear strategy in Ukraine, a path to resolving the conflict, or a plan for adequately ensuring accountability for aid provided by American taxpayers,” Mr. Johnson said on X on Monday, responding to the White House letter. “Meanwhile, the administration is continually ignoring the catastrophe at our own border.”

Over the last several months, as aid has dwindled and Ukraine has struggled to push back Russian troops in a counteroffensive that has largely stalled, allies have openly worried about whether the United States will sustain its support of the nearly two-year war. The British foreign secretary, David Cameron, is expected to raise the subject again this week on a visit to Washington, and the U.S. secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, spent considerable time at a high-level NATO meeting last week trying to assuage doubts in Europe.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has long made clear how big a loss it would be to his war effort should American military assistance end. “We need three victories,” he said on Nov. 24. “The first is with Congress. It’s a challenge. It’s not easy. Not everything depends on us. But Ukraine must do everything it can, and even more, to ensure assistance. And I believe it will be.”

In battlefield interviews, Ukrainian soldiers said the amount of American weapons and other equipment had already begun to drop. In a bunker of a frontline artillery unit more than 150 miles north of Avdiivka, in eastern Ukraine, soldiers recently looked at a screen of Russian armor arrayed across the enemy lines. They only had 20 shells per day allotted to them, which meant they could realistically hope to take out two targets.

When the same unit was in Kherson on the offensive last summer, they had five times as much ammunition at their disposal, the soldiers said.

European states, most notably Germany, have tried to fill the gap with more air defense systems, ammunition and other supplies, but will not be able to meet Ukraine’s demands until the Continent’s defense industry ramps up — a process that will take at least a year, and most likely longer.

Five American defense companies were the world’s top arms producers in 2022, according to an analysis released Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. But the demands of the war have stretched their capacity because of labor and supply shortages, the study concluded.

The debate over more war funding is being driven by Republicans in Congress, who want sweeping changes to the American immigration system included in a $106 billion aid package that includes about $61 billion for Ukraine.

A bipartisan group of senators who are trying to broker a compromise have agreed to make it harder for migrants to be granted asylum in the United States, but that proposal has enraged some Democrats and failed to satisfy many Republicans. The impasse has held up the overall aid package, and some lawmakers have openly doubted whether it will be resolved by the end of the year.

“I will not vote for any aid until we secure our border,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” He added: “I’m not helping Ukraine until we help ourselves.”

The White House has predicted that the aid for Ukraine, and the rest of the emergency spending plan, will be approved by the year’s end. But Ms. Young’s letter lays bare the administration’s concerns.

The Pentagon has spent 97 percent of the war funding it received, totaling about $62.3 billion, according to the letter. Nearly $45 billion of that has gone directly to Ukraine, according to the latest State Department weapons tally.

The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development have spent an additional $27.2 billion on economic assistance to Ukraine and civilian security assistance, like clearing minefields. Ms. Young said that money “is just as essential to Ukraine’s survival as military assistance.”

“If Ukraine’s economy collapses, they will not be able to keep fighting — full stop,” she wrote. “Putin understands this well.”

Marc Santora contributed reporting from Kyiv.