President Donald Trump disembarks Marine One at Joint Base Andrews, Md., on Jan. 9, 2020. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

GAO: Administration Withholding Ukraine Aid for ‘Policy Reason’ Violated the Law

In the summer of 2019, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) withheld from obligation funds appropriated to the Department of Defense (DOD) for security assistance to Ukraine. In order to withhold the funds, OMB issued a series of nine apportionment schedules with footnotes that made all unobligated balances unavailable for obligation.

“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the Government Accountability Office said in a decision issued Thursday after a review of the incident at the heart of President Trump’s inauguration. “OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act (ICA). The withholding was not a programmatic delay. Therefore, we conclude that OMB violated the ICA.”

GAO concluded that OMB withheld the funds from obligation for an unauthorized reason in violation of the ICA, and also questioned actions regarding funds appropriated to the Department of State for security assistance to Ukraine.

For fiscal year 2019, Congress appropriated $250 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI). The funds were available “to provide assistance, including training; equipment; lethal assistance; logistics support, supplies and services; sustainment; and intelligence support to the military and national security forces of Ukraine.” The appropriation made the funds available for obligation through September 30, 2019.

Read the full GAO decision

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