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Congress’s Failure To Pass Regular Pentagon Spending Bill Puts Army in a Bind

The U.S. Army is at risk of running out of money for its operations in Europe and Africa. However, in this case, it’s not just the refusal of House Speaker Mike Johnson to bring President Joe Biden’s war budget bill to the floor, but also the failure of the U.S. Congress to complete action on the regular budget bills, including the fiscal year 2024 defense appropriations bill. As a result, the Army is being forced to cannibalize its regular spending accounts in order to cover its operations related to Ukraine. Since October 2023, the beginning of the fiscal year, the Army has spent more than $430 million on various operations, including training Ukrainian troops, transporting equipment, and U.S. troop deployments to Europe. “We’re basically taking it out of hide in the Army,” a senior Army official told CNN.

So far, that bill has been paid from the Army’s Europe and Africa Command. Without a 2024 budget approved by Congress, and without additional funding specifically for Ukraine, the command has roughly $3 billion to pay for $5 billion of operations costs, a second senior Army official explained. That includes not only the operations related to Ukraine support—training and ferrying weapons and equipment to Poland and Ukraine—but other operations for the U.S. command throughout Europe and Africa.

If Congress still hasn’t passed new funding for Ukraine within a few months, Army officials say they will have to start making hard decisions and divert money from less critical projects, such as badly needed barracks construction or enlistment incentives amid record-low recruiting. And if the Army doesn’t pull funds from elsewhere, Army Europe and Africa’s roughly $3 billion budget would run out of money by the end of May, the second senior Army official told CNN.