Yellen warns Congress stalling Ukraine aid is ‘nothing short of a gift’ for Putin

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen ripped into Congress for failing to secure more aid for Ukraine in its war against Russia, calling the inaction “nothing short of a gift,” for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In remarks delivered Thursday before a meeting with German economy minister Robert Habeck, Yellen called on House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) to pass the Senate’s $95 billion foreign aid package, which includes $60 billion for Ukraine.

“As the House continues to stall, Russia is gaining ground and Ukraine is being forced to ration ammunition and supplies,” Yellen said, adding later, “Congressional inaction is nothing short of a gift to Putin, Iran and other adversaries that stand against America and its allies.”

Iran has sold arms and ballistic missiles to Russia in recent months.

She pointed to the recent death and controversy surrounding Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died last month in a remote Arctic penal colony. One of the most vocal critics of Putin and the Kremlin, many Western leaders have blamed the Russian president for his death. He was serving a 19-year sentence for extremism charges and was recently moved from a different prison to the highest-security facility in Russia.

“Last week, we witnessed the courage of thousands of Russian people who stood up to Putin and took to the streets to mourn the death of Alexei Navalny. The House must act and show the strength of the U.S. support for Ukraine in the face of Putin’s aggression,” Yellen said, referencing the hundreds of people arrested in Russia while mourning Navalny.

Aid for Ukraine has stalled in Congress for more than a year due to increasing division among lawmakers. Congress has not passed a bill with funding for the Eastern European nation since the end of 2022, when a Democratic majority passed its fourth aid package for the country.

In an attempt to meet the requests of several Senate Republicans who argued any aid to Ukraine must be tied with border security, Senate negotiators spent months hammering out a bipartisan deal, which eventually failed amid opposition from Republicans and former President Trump.

With funding in limbo, the Senate passed the $95 billion supplemental and sent it to the House, where Johnson has indicated he would not put it up for a vote as it lacks border security measures demanded by House GOP members.

“As I’ve said before, U.S. direct budget support for Ukraine benefits from an unprecedented level of robust oversight and transparency — an issue of great importance to Congress and the Administration — and additional support would be conditioned on Ukraine making essential reforms,” Yellen noted Thursday.

The Hill reached out to Johnson’s office for comment.

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