By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – The Russian invasion of Ukraine hits its one-year anniversary this week, and lawmakers want to know: where has all the money gone?
With $113 billion allocated by Congress to help Ukraine in the past year, House Oversight Committee Chair U.S. Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., sent a letter to the Biden administration demanding oversight of how those funds are being spent.
“It is critical that government agencies administering these funds ensure they are used for their intended purposes to prevent and reduce the risk of waste, fraud, and abuse,” the letter said.
The groups under scrutiny are the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, three groups that will largely be handling the more than $100 billion in Congressional funding.
Rep. Comer pointed to the waste of taxpayer dollars during the war in Afghanistan.
“We learned from efforts in Afghanistan that the World Bank does not always have effective monitoring and accounting of funds, and often lacks transparency,” the letter said. “We also learned that unrealistic timelines and expectations that prioritize spending quickly lead to increased corruption and reduced effectiveness of programs. As the United States continues to filter assistance through multilateral organizations with pressure to spend funds quickly, we must ensure proper protections are in place to prevent the misuse of funds.”
Rep. Comer also pointed out that the Ukrainian president recently fired officials for corruption.
“Ukrainian government officials allegedly engaged in bribery, used government vehicles for personal use, and purchased inflated food supplies for Ukrainian forces,” the letter said. “In response, President Zelensky named a new Minister of Defense. Based on Mr. Kirby’s remarks, however, the U.S. National Security Council appears unaware of this corruption scandal, heightening concerns that U.S. agencies are not conducting oversight of taxpayer assistance to Ukraine.”
The Biden administration has also handed weapons, not just cash, directly to Ukraine, raising questions of accountability.
Rep. Comer gave the Biden administration officials until March 8 to provide more information on how money is being used and how waste, fraud, and abuse is being avoided.
“Of the $113 billion approved in 2022, about three-fifths ($67 billion) has been allocated toward defense needs and the remaining two-fifths ($46 billion) to nondefense concerns such as general Ukrainian government aid, economic support, and aid for refugee resettlement,” the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said in a statement.