House lawmakers are pushing for a special inspector general to oversee the more than $113 billion in Ukraine aid authorized by Congress.
The proposal is modeled on the independent watchdog assigned to oversee U.S. funds throughout the two-decade war in Afghanistan.
Republican Reps. Chip Roy of Texas and Ralph Norman of South Carolina introduced a House measure on Thursday to create a special inspector general for Ukraine assistance, or SIGUA, that mirrors similar legislation put forward by Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican, earlier this month.
The lawmakers say the current law directing the Pentagon, State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development to oversee the surge of cash and weapons being sent to Ukraine is insufficient and increases the risk that fraud, waste and abuse will fall through the cracks.
Under their proposal, the SIGUA would conduct audits, investigations and oversight of the aid sent to Ukraine and submit quarterly reports to Congress on the Ukrainian government’s compliance with anti-corruption measures.
“It has been almost 400 days, and the American taxpayer has sent $113 billion to this de facto proxy war,” Mr. Roy said. “That’s over $11 million per hour with no legitimate debate in Congress about our role, our strategy, or our long-term objectives.”
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“If this body cannot bring itself to actually debate these questions, then the people who elected us deserve — at the bare minimum — to know where their hard-earned money is going.”
The proposals echo earlier calls among GOP lawmakers for increased scrutiny 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.”
The Biden administration’s top Ukraine aid watchdogs have pushed back against calls for a special inspector general and cautioned 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 already has strict requirements for interagency oversight attached to 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.”
The three inspectors generals overseeing Ukraine aid said in a report this week that while there have been 189 allegations of misuse or misconduct, no significant fraud has been substantiated.
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.
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.”
“$113 billion of taxpayer dollars that could be used to address the many crises in our country is being sent to Ukraine,” Mr. Norman said on Thursday. “For the sake of the taxpayers, we need complete transparency on where every single dollar is going.”
• Joseph Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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