At the end of August there was growing speculation. Leaders of the Congress, their advisors, and members of key committees-including committees on resources, military, and foreign affairs-sought to discover why money spent months before by congress had not yet been disbursed. The legislature's contact with key authorities left few indications, except that the delay came from the White House and no one could pinpoint the exact reason.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell intervened and turned to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper as other members called for action with letters, public statements, speeches, and publicity.
"I have no idea what caused the delay, but I was one of the proponents that we need to stick to our Ukrainian friends." McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, reported on his deployment last week.
In more than a dozen interviews with members of Congress and aides in recent days, many legislators on both sides of the aisle said they did not remember the exact time they became aware of it Problem with Ukrainian Financing At the end of August, there was a growing sense that Congress had to press the government harder after its return from the August break to release her. Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Forces and External Relations, told CNN that he had spoken to the Pentagon several times about funding.
"I called the Pentagon and the Pentagon said they were worried about the new government, that they would take due care, that they were worried about corruption, that they were worried about military aid They said, "Well, find out," Graham added, adding that it is not unusual for President Donald Trump not to want foreign aid.
"As for the president, he wants help To hold back on a broad front to make people pay more, "said Graham, a Republican from South Carolina and a key ally of Congress for Trump, on the grounds that there was no connection between the money and the president's attempt to dirt to get to his potential political opponent.
During the summer, Senator Bob Menendez, the senior Democrat in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, regularly called his staff at the State Department, while Menendez himself exercised public pressure.
In a statement issued on August 29, Menendez said, "By deliberately delaying these resources, the Trump government is again trying to circumvent Congressional constitutional privilege to provide funding to US government agencies, and undermines an important political priority that there has been broad and deep support from both parties. "
Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat who wanted to travel to Ukraine in the first week of September, also issued a statement requesting the government to release the money.
"All I heard was that this was a decision of the President, it was his decision and it was his decision alone," said Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, to CNN.
Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Rob Portman of Ohio each spoke directly to the President.
In early summer, most members and aides had not raised a red flag for Ukraine's help. The money had not been sent, but given the fact that it was an administration where key players had not kept track of how they had dealt with foreign aid, it was not particularly unusual.
The president had been open, he loathed how much the US government sent to countries overseas. It was a refrain of his campaign. And Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff of the president and OMB director, who had earned the reputation as a budget savior for detention with his colleagues on the hill, had pressed for a resignation package throughout the summer, which would have been roughly cut 4 billion USD. Many members and helpers believed that a delay in Ukrainian financing could have something to do with the package. [August 22, 2002] On August 22, there are indications that Mulvaney and the government have refused to resign. And after this fight was over, members wondered why military aid to Ukraine had still not ended. At the end of August, Politico announced that Ukraine was still providing millions of dollars in military aid.
A Nonpartisan Priority
The legislature was impressed by the fact that it was money that had already been used with broad bipartisan support. Ukraine's military aid was a rare foreign policy issue that united the members of both parties. The country's support of Capitol Hill has been widely seen as a means to deter Russian aggressions, keep them at bay, and secure the region. The fact that the money was withheld and there was no clear explanation or information about a change in the political rules in the region bothered many.
While it was not unprecedented for a government to change course or withhold money when it was there, a developing situation in a country they supported was unusual in that members of relevant committees were not involved in these discussions Running goods.
"We would have expected a congressional announcement that funds were actually being spent, and that would have triggered a briefing, and we would normally have been informed," Menendez told CNN.
He added, "This is in many ways a symbol of this government."
Two different lines of money were stopped. There were $ 250 million in military aid provided by the Defense Department, which had not yet been liquidated, and another $ 140 million to be provided by the State Department. A Democratic Senate adviser told CNN last week that the Defense Committees had been informed by the Department of Defense that they were prepared to send $ 125 million in February and $ 125 million in May.
A senior Pentagon official sent a letter to Congress in May confirming that Ukraine is making progress in combating corruption, which justifies the US providing US military aid worth US $ 250 million Grant dollars.
Then nothing, such a convention assistant and a US official who was familiar with the correspondence. In August, we were told that OMB was providing the funds, "said Dick Durbin, minority whip of the Senate Withholding funds that had been used and legally confirmed by the president until the last two weeks of the fiscal year. That's crazy. It hardly happens, "said another Democratic adviser to CNN that the State Department had informed OMB. Typically, this process would have been just a courtesy: OMB would have had up to five days to ask questions about this process, but instead it took more than two months before Congress was informed that the money was being distributed.
US State Department officials told Senate staff in a meeting last week that the US State Department had no objection to the extra money supply and not Know that OMB sat on it, according to a Senate source, but officials at the meeting pointed directly to Mulvaney as the person who had instructed the State Department not to send the funds.
In early September, Johnson and Murphy traveled On their return, both spoke to Durbin, an Illinois Democrat and deputy Chairman of the subcommittee on the defense of the resources of the Senate, on the need to ensure that Ukraine gets its money.
"I'll tell you, whoever mentioned that to me was Ron Johnson," Durbin said. "He came back from Ukraine and said we have to release this money." And I said, "I will examine it." "
Murphy later said about his time in Ukraine that it was" almost panic " "in the country during his trip to see if America is really committed to their relationship, also because of late help.
In the meantime, more and more senators noticed that the money was being held back and turned their attention to Mulvaney. On September 3, Portman and Johnson, along with Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut – members of the bipartisan Ukraine caucus – sent a letter to Mulvaney asking for answers on what was wrong with the money.
"This body has long been committed to strengthening Ukraine's military capabilities and capabilities – a young democracy that is for the West and the United States and has been under increasing military, political and economic pressure from Russia since 2014. " Senators wrote.
In the House of Representatives, Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel and Republican Rep. Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas sent a separate letter to Mulvaney two days later.
Finally, there was the opportunity to put the Trump administration in place.
Low Commended Vote
Durbin had been working on an amendment that would withhold money from the Pentagon if the government did not spend military aid on Ukraine in time. He had talked to a very worried Republican about it: Lindsey Graham.
On September 12, the Committee for the Grant of the Senate opened a hearing to increase the defense resources. The routine meeting was fraught with fireworks about the President's election pledge for a US-Mexico border, but the meeting brought news for a different reason.
Graham announced that the Trump administration has finally released military aid to Ukraine. There was no reason for Durbin to make his amendment.
"Why was it published because of your change," Graham told the committee. "That's why it was released because I wanted to vote for it … If you listen to C-SPAN in Ukraine, you will get the money."
Graham urged Durbin to drop his amendment.
"We can call the Minister of Defense at any time if we want to provide funding for 2020 and say:" When will you release the funds to Ukraine? If you have a legitimate problem, let us know. "If they give us the pass, you'll bill me with a bill that will get 90 votes," Graham said.
Durbin spoke anyway and flirted with the idea that he would still force the committee to vote on his amendment, putting pressure on the government to spend aid on Ukraine next year, or threatened with consequences.
However, several Republicans also expressed concern that the money was being kept. Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, said she was "inclined" to vote for the amendment because "I think it was a problem that the money was not released".
Louisiana GOP Senator John Kennedy asked several times, "Mr. Chairperson, I would like to ask Sen. Durbin and Sen. Murphy why they believe the funds have been held up."
Durbin replied, "We do not know."
Durbin withdrew the amendment. what he said then was an act of good faith.