WH Budget Office Releases Memo Explaining Delay of Ukraine Aid...And It Wasn't Political

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Posted: Dec 12, 2019 8:15 AM
WH Budget Office Releases Memo Explaining Delay of Ukraine Aid...And It Wasn't Political

Source: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The White House Budget Office released a memo Wednesday explaining that the delay of military aid to Ukraine was not political, but due to an examination of whether it complied with U.S. policy.

“For decades, OMB has routinely used its apportionment authority to prevent funds from being used,” OMB general counsel Mark Paoletta wrote in a memo responding to a Government Accountability Office request about why the aid was delayed, reports The Washington Post.

“Often, in managing appropriations, OMB must briefly pause an agency’s legal ability to spend those funds for a number of reasons, including to ensure that the funds are being spent efficiently, that they are being spent in accordance with statutory directives, or to assess how or whether funds should be used for a particular activity.”

The office first began discussing the aid on June 19, the day President Trump learned of the aid from an article in the Washington Examiner and questioned the wisdom of the spending. That move sent aides scrambling, according to a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share internal conversations.

The Office of Management and Budget extended the temporary hold on the aid eight times in August and September, the last time being Sept. 10. Almost immediately after that hold, the money was released, according to the new memo, which was reviewed by The Washington Post. […]

The memo says that “at no point during the pause” did Defense Department attorneys tell OMB the Ukrainian funding would be prevented from being spent before the end of the year.

OMB’s memo also stresses that the Defense Department indicated to its staff that it didn’t intend to release most of the security funds to Ukraine until September, so the damage of withholding the funds was minuscule. (WaPo)

Additionally, the memo emphasizes that money which has already been signed into law is routinely held up, and Congress also acts in much the same way.