Fri. May 31st, 2024

GOP critics vow no more US aid for Ukraine

Emily Hudson By Emily Hudson May17,2024

Conservative skeptics of funding the war in Ukraine predict it will be the last major U.S. aid package for Kyiv that passes.

The GOP critics of the package acknowledge that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) won this round of the debate by pushing $61 billion for Ukraine through Congress.

But they argue that if President Biden comes back with another request, he’ll go away empty-handed.

“If Ukraine thinks that it’s getting another $60 billion supplemental out of the United States Congress, there’s no way,” said Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio), who led the opposition among Senate Republicans to pouring tens of billions of more dollars into the war effort.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said Wednesday the new military aid package for Ukraine will last through the end of the year, raising the prospect that a new infusion of weapons and funding may be needed quickly in 2025.

That could make Ukraine’s war with Russia, and U.S. support for Kyiv, a major issue in the presidential race between Biden and former President Trump and in the battles for the House and Senate.

The presidential and House races are both considered toss-ups, while Republicans are widely seen as favorites to win the Senate majority given a highly favorable map.

“So much of what happens next depends on the outcome of the November election,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). 

Sullivan on Wednesday said there’s a “deep reservoir” of support for Ukraine in both parties. 

But he acknowledged Ukrainian setbacks in the war because of dwindling supplies, telling reporters Ukraine has had to ration ammunition and is under “severe pressure on the battlefield.”

“It’s going to take some time for us to dig out of the hole that was created by six months of delay before Congress passed the supplemental,” he said. 

There is support for Ukraine in both chambers of Congress, but House GOP support has been declining. While Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) brought legislation to the floor, he did so at risk to his political future. A majority of House Republicans voted against more aid to Ukraine, and some conservatives are threatening to oust Johnson as Speaker.

A majority of GOP senators did back aid to Ukraine, and McConnell won nine more Republican votes than on a package earlier this year.  

Still, Vance noted Republican support for underwriting an open-ended war against Russia has dipped significantly over the past two years.

“I think it’s going to be really hard to get a package out of Congress,” said Vance, who argued in a recent New York Times op-ed that the military aid package approved this week won’t turn the tide of the war.

“Fundamentally, we lack the capacity to manufacture the amount of weapons Ukraine needs us to supply to win the war,” Vance wrote in an essay that made waves on Capitol Hill.

McConnell, however, told reporters Tuesday that Republicans who support sending more military aid to Ukraine are winning the argument with colleagues he called “isolationists.”

“I think we’ve turned the corner on the isolationist movement,” he argued to reporters. “I think we’ve made some progress.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) praised the bill that passed Tuesday as “a very full package” but declined to say how long it will keep Ukrainian forces supplied on the battlefield. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who voted for the $95 billion emergency foreign aid bill, which President Biden quickly signed into law, says more future aid will need to be structured as a loan.

“The loan component’s going to be bigger, not smaller. If you want more for Ukraine in the future, it’ll be more of a loan,” he said.

To attract more Republican support for the package that passed this week, House leaders structured $9.5 billion worth of economic assistance as forgivable loans to help Ukraine’s energy sector and infrastructure needs, as well as help other countries impacted by the war.

To supporters of Ukraine aid, the question is not a matter of if, but rather when Ukraine will need another tranche of assistance. 

Senators in both parties expect the $61 billion Congress approved this week will cover Kyiv through November and potentially the end of the year. This tees up a fight in the lame-duck session after the November election over whether to continue U.S. support for the war at its current level.

“There’s no question we’re going to have to have another one. Whether or not we can even get through this year is a question. There could easily be something in the lame duck. We’ve got to be there as long as [Russian President Vladimir Putin] is,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

Lawmakers have little idea of what to expect if former President Trump wins another term, given his constantly evolving stance on the war. 

Trump urged Republican senators to defeat the first version of the $95 billion foreign package they passed in February, but in recent weeks, he has softened his position against sending billions of dollars more to Ukraine after Johnson insisted on structuring the economic assistance as a forgivable loan. 

Trump allies said the former president also played an influential role in convincing lawmakers to add the REPO Act to the package, which authorizes the seizure of Russian assets to pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine. 

But the possibility of Trump returning to the White House is fueling anxiety among Democrats over Ukraine’s future, given his past statements. 

A Republican congressional aide said Department of Defense officials and European allies will begin putting together a new funding request for Ukraine in September and for it to come to Congress in the lame-duck session. 

“I would expect it in the lame-duck,” said the source. “If Biden loses, does he submit a supplemental before Trump is in office? The incoming administration would have to be consulted significantly.”

Lawmakers who support funding for Ukraine do feel encouraged by the strong bipartisan votes that propelled the emergency spending package through the Senate and House. 

Thirty-one Senate Republicans joined with almost every Democrat to push the package across the finish line — an uptick of nine GOP members from the February vote. Ukraine advocates believe this gives them the wind in their sails when they inevitably push for another package. 

“This is a pretty overwhelming vote,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said of the 31 Senate Republicans who joined a large majority of the Senate Democratic caucus in approving Ukraine funding this week. “I don’t think anybody should question our commitment.” 

Cornyn is vying with Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) to replace McConnell, the biggest champion of supporting the war in the Senate GOP conference, as party leader. 

Republicans say they are encouraged Trump decided not to tank the Ukraine funding bill after meeting with the Speaker at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. 

GOP senators say Trump can be persuaded to change his mind on some issues and believe they can convince him to support more aid for Ukraine if he wins in November.

“I think it is [possible],” Tillis said. “I think [Trump] when he is fully briefed and his administration is overseeing the execution of it, yeah, I think he’ll support it. I don’t know that it would be one of his top priorities, but I do think he’ll support it.”

Emily Hudson

By Emily Hudson

Emily is a talented author who has published several bestselling novels in the mystery genre. With a knack for creating gripping plotlines and intriguing characters, Emily's works have captivated readers worldwide.

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2 thoughts on “GOP critics vow no more US aid for Ukraine”
  1. As a concerned citizen, I strongly believe that cutting off aid to Ukraine would be a strategic mistake. Providing support to Ukraine is essential to safeguarding international stability and promoting democracy in the region. This decision is crucial for the security interests of both Ukraine and the United States.

  2. As a concerned citizen, I believe that the decision to limit aid to Ukraine is short-sighted and may have long-term consequences. It’s essential to support Ukraine in their struggle against Russia for the sake of stability in the region.

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