The Pentagon is reportedly planning to exempt aid to Ukraine from the impact of a potential U.S. government shutdown, sending MAGA Republicans opposed to the assistance into a tizzy.
A shutdown is becoming increasingly likely due to a standoff between Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy and hard-right Republicans demanding a series of concessions. Former President Donald Trump, who has claimed that he would personally be able to end the Russia-Ukraine war “in 24 hours,” has demanded that Republicans “defund all aspects” of the government as the September 30 deadline fast approaches.
While military operations that are not considered critical to national security are usually halted during a shutdown, the Pentagon is able make some exceptions. Pentagon spokesperson Chris Sherwood told Politico on Thursday that a decision had been made to exempt Ukraine operations during a potential shutdown, just after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Washington, D.C., to make the case for more military aid for his nation’s efforts to fend off the Russian invasion.
The report enraged a number of MAGA Republicans on social media, including GOP politicians who have been outspoken in their opposition to helping Ukraine. Some argued that the Biden administration was putting the interests of Ukraine ahead of domestic concerns.
“Well this just says it all doesn’t it,” Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia wrote in response to the article on X, formerly Twitter.
“America First Republicans are demanding fiscal responsibility. But the only thing the @JoeBiden administration cares about is funding their proxy war in Ukraine,” wrote former Republican Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. “They treat hard-working Americans as bargaining chips. Our families never asked to be part of their game.”
“BREAKING: The pentagon will exempt all operations with Ukraine in the event of a government shutdown … The faucet will stay on,” @GuntherEagleman posted. “Zelensky over senior citizens. The government hates us.”
“So Ukraine gets funded during a government shutdown but Americans don’t? WTF,” posted conservative commentators the Hodgetwins.
“This is an actual coup,” @aimtomisb3hav3 posted. “The Pentagon doesn’t get to tell Congress what’s exempt. You are ruled. And those rulers think Ukraine is more important than you.”
A shutdown could still impact U.S. aid to Ukraine. The exemption would reportedly allow for the continuation of activities like training and other forms of U.S. support to Kyiv’s forces.
Department of Defense spokesperson Chris Sherwood said in a statement emailed to Newsweek that Operation Atlantic Resolve, the name given to the mission to aid Ukraine, was exempt from a shutdown because it “is an excepted activity under a government lapse in appropriations.”
Sherwood added that the exemption was “consistent with” the department’s contingency plans in the event of a shutdown.
Biden announced an additional $325 million in aid to Ukraine during Zelensky’s visit on Thursday. He has also requested congressional approval for another $24 billion in aid, which likely has enough bipartisan support to pass but is at the moment being held up due to the standoff in the House. The U.S. has sent Kyiv roughly $113 billion in aid so far.
A group of 29 Republican members of Congress sent a letter to the White House on Thursday, vowing to oppose more aid, calling it “an open-ended commitment to supporting the war in Ukraine of an indeterminate nature.”