WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, expressed their disappointment that Senate Democrats blocked their amendment to establish a lead inspector general (IG) for Ukrainian assistance during debate on the FY2024 National Defense Authorization Act. The Wicker-Risch amendment failed last night on a 51-48 vote.
“The American people deserve to have every dollar accounted for, and this amendment would have strengthened our long-running efforts to ensure fast and transparent oversight of all aspects of U.S. support to Ukraine,” said Risch. “The United States has a legal obligation to support Ukraine as its people fight for freedom – we can support them and help them win without any U.S. boots on the ground, as we have demonstrated. Making our support efforts even more transparent for the American people would add great value, and I’m disappointed this provision did not move forward.”
“I am dismayed that my Democrat colleagues withheld support for this reasonable, effective effort to conduct additional oversight of U.S aid to Ukraine,” said Wicker. “Lawmakers are far better positioned to support Ukraine when taxpayers feel confident that their money is spent on a transparent and effective basis. I will continue promoting rigorous oversight of Ukrainian military aid as I also push the Biden administration to provide Ukraine the weapons it needs to win this war.”
Risch and Wicker were joined by Senators John Kennedy (R-La.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). The effort spearheaded by Wicker and Risch would have established a lead IG to coordinate the multiagency effort to monitor U.S. assistance to Ukraine.
The authorities vested in the inspector general position would improve the transparency of aid efforts. Among the authorities is a requirement that an inspector general remain in Ukraine at all times. Additional provisions would increase public availability of oversight efforts and would grant Congress access to classified reports on Ukraine aid.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board called the legislation a “sensible amendment” and “worthy project” that would enable more robust advocacy for support to Ukraine. The editorial can be found here.
Wicker and Risch will continue to advocate a “more, better, faster” approach to Ukraine aid along with rigorous oversight, including the provision of ATACMS and F-16s as soon as possible.