- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The Biden administration’s top Ukraine aid watchdogs pushed back against Republican calls for a special inspector general to oversee the more than $113 billion in assistance authorized by Congress, warning that adding more layers of inspection could derail current oversight efforts.

Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, the inspectors general overseeing Ukraine funding for the Pentagon, State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development said Congress has attached strict requirements for interagency oversight over the economic, humanitarian and military assistance being sent to Kyiv.

The officials said they had yet to uncover instances of significant fraud, waste or abuse throughout the yearlong U.S. effort to surge cash and weapons to Ukraine.

State Department acting inspector general Diana Shaw said the oversight model being deployed to monitor the Ukraine aid has been “pressure tested” and proven to be effective. She said adding another layer could “result in a redundant mandate, duplicative costs [and] duplicative effort.”

In a report issued this week, the three inspectors generals overseeing the administration of the Ukraine funding said they had received 189 complaints alleging misconduct related to the Ukraine response, but had yet to substantiate any claims of significant misuse or fraud.

The report also indicated that the Pentagon and State Department OIGs are reviewing end-use-monitoring systems that track weapons being deployed to Ukraine and had yet to uncover any instances of arms falling into the wrong hands.

Some in the GOP, however, remain unconvinced that the measures in place are sufficient and have called for a model similar to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, and independent watchdog assigned to oversee the U.S. funds throughout that two-decade war.

Those efforts echo broader calls in the GOP for increased scrutiny over the funds as the U.S. faces economic headwinds of its own.

Last week the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a measure put forward by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to force a full audit of the taxpayer funds spent on Ukraine.

Democrats blocked Ms. Greene’s measure in the last Congress, calling it an extremist ploy to “undermine strong bipartisan support for Ukrainian freedom and sovereignty.”

Rep. Gregory W. Meeks of New York, the top Democrat on the committee, said Wednesday that the Republican calls for added oversight ignore the current mechanisms in place to monitor the funds.

“Every dollar and shipment of U.S. security assistance provided is audaciously tracked by an integrated whole-of-government effort led by the departments of State and Defense,” he said. “These mechanisms aren’t new.”

Rep. Michael T. McCaul, Texas Republican and the committee chairman, has been an ardent supporter of aiding Ukraine and has pressed the Biden administration to send more-lethal military assistance.

Still, he said Wednesday that he is committed to robust oversight to “incentivize the administration and Ukraine to use funds from Congress with the highest degree of efficiency and effectiveness.”

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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