Biden, Pentagon urge Congress to pass national security funding bill

by Braxton Taylor

The Pentagon’s top money man has a message for the Hill: It’s past time to vote on the president’s supplemental funding request for Ukraine, Israel, and the Middle East. 

“Not trying to be a hater, I mean, this Congress has not gotten a lot done,” Michael McCord, the Pentagon’s chief financial officer, said Thursday during the McAleese defense conference in Washington, D.C. “We have passed [continuing resolutions]; we have shown that we can do that. We have avoided default, but we’re looking for proactive things as well as avoiding completely falling off the cliff. And coming together and getting things done has proven problematic.” 

McCord expressed frustration at the House’s failure to vote on a $95 billion supplemental funding bill passed by the Senate last month.  

“We’re going to continue to support Ukraine. We’re going to do it with supplementals. It’s clearly in our national interest to do so. I’ve been pleased to see broad consensus in this town, in Congress, that the U.S. needs to focus on China,” McCord said. “What… I don’t get is that there seem to be those who think that standing up to Russian aggression or standing with our allies and partners in Europe is somehow optional, or even a harmful distraction.” 

Some House Republicans have been resistant to foreign aid and funding for Ukraine, putting the bill’s future in limbo. 

The comments come as the White House is poised to release the fiscal year 2025 budget request, while Congress works to pass another stopgap funding bill to avoid a government shutdown. The bill was passed by the House and is headed to the Senate. 

McCord said the supplemental funds are also critical for covering the Navy’s operating costs in the Red Sea. 

“When we first submitted a supplemental, about two weeks after the Hamas attack on Israel, we didn’t have any data on things like that. So it was not part of our supplemental. The Senate included that,” McCord said. “The best thing the House could do is vote on what the Senate passed.”

President Joe Biden in his State of the Union address pressed Congress to pass the supplemental bill, calling on Republicans and even his presidential opponent, Former President Donald Trump, to stop putting “the free world at risk.”

“I say this to Congress: we must stand up to Putin. Send me the Bipartisan National Security Bill. History is watching. If the United States walks away now, it will put Ukraine at risk. Europe at risk. The free world at risk, emboldening others who wish to do us harm,” Biden said Thursday. “My Republican friends, you owe it to the American people to get this bill done. We need to act. And if my predecessor is watching instead of playing politics and pressuring members of Congress to block this bill, join me in telling Congress to pass it!” 



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