US aid to Ukraine will continue even if the government is forced to shut down next weekend over a spending row in Congress, the Pentagon has announced.
The Department of Defense said its budget for weapons and humanitarian aid for Ukraine had been ringfenced as part of a contingency plan to keep “essential” parts of Joe Biden’s administration afloat.
Much of the federal government could be forced to close temporarily next weekend if Republicans in the House of Representatives refuse to authorise a short-term spending resolution.
Hardliners in the GOP, including from the House Freedom Caucus, have objected to high levels of federal spending and have attached a range of conservative demands to the spending bill in an attempt to kill it off.
Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Speaker of the House, has attempted to negotiate a compromise with his own party that would involve a temporary “continuing resolution” to prevent a shutdown.
If a spending bill is not passed in time, thousands of federal employees will be furloughed without pay and much of the government’s work will stop.
Operation Atlantic Resolve
But the Pentagon said on Friday that it had designated assistance for Ukraine, codenamed “Operation Atlantic Resolve” has been marked in its contingency plans as “essential” spending that would continue.
“Operation Atlantic Resolve is an excepted activity under a government lapse in appropriations,” DOD spokesperson Chris Sherwood told Fox News.
The spending row comes as Republicans say they will also oppose a new $24bn aid package for Ukraine that Mr Biden has requested from Congress.
Some Republicans, including the presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, argue that Mr Biden has spent too much on Ukraine’s war effort and should focus on domestic issues.
The current package expires at the end of the month, leaving the Pentagon with a remaining budget of $5.5bn discovered after an accounting error.