Politics

Aid to Ukraine faces tougher crowd if Republicans take over

“There is some push, but I think the majority [will] support Ukraine because it is in the interest of our national security,” the representative said. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) predicted. “Now I don’t know if we’ll make a $40 billion music video like we did before.”

Lawmakers are likely to provide new funding to Ukraine as part of an ongoing resolution before Oct. 1 to prevent a shutdown. Congress has approved tens of billions for emergency security and humanitarian aid since Russia launched its invasion in February, while the administration has shipped billions of weapons and equipment from military stockpiles .

“The CR will pass and with Ukraine’s full help, I predict,” said Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “But there is no doubt that the era of major emergency supplementary spending bills for Ukraine is ending with the next one for various reasons.

“It would be too simplistic to say that this is one problem more than another at this stage. But voters are talking to conservative members of Congress,” Eaglen added. “It’s really driven from the base to Washington and not the other way around.”

Republicans accounted for the only votes this spring against the $40 billion aid package — the largest and most extensive engagement with Ukraine to date — with 57 House members and 11 senators opposing the legislation. Opponents of the package and additional emergency aid have argued that more needs to be done to account for how the money is spent and to trace weapons and equipment sent into the fight against Russia.

Conservative opponents have also argued that uncompensated spending comes at the expense of addressing national issues they hammered Biden and Democrats on, including high inflation and immigration.

“A lot of Republicans said, ‘I voted for that one, I won’t vote for again,’ said a House GOP member who opposed the $40 billion aid bill.” And then the backlash at home was fierce.”

“America can’t afford to provide Ukraine with a blank checkbook when we have inflation, gas prices, the supply chain crisis, all of the above, happening at us,” said the lawmaker, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly about the dynamic. of the Republican Conference. “That’s what I hear from my constituents.”

Republicans are narrowly favored to win the House, while control of the Senate is a draw. A Republican House in 2023 is likely to be more conservative than previous majorities, which means more skepticism about bringing money to Ukraine.

conservative representative Chipie Roy (R-Texas) said a GOP majority should “verify” the White House to explain how new money will be spent and force offsets for emergency spending such as approved funding for Ukraine. He lambasted other Republicans who “use defense as an excuse to spend all kinds of money.”

“Where are the guns and the butter? We just keep writing checks,” Roy said. “There is no limiting principle. So no, count on me not giving more money to Ukraine without having a serious conversation about guns and butter, a serious conversation about why we’re spending it and what it’s in the interest of our national security.

“BREAKING: Congress has agreed to a bill to fund the government,” the rep said. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) tweeted monday. “UNFORTUNATELY: it’s the government of Ukraine.

So far, the defense hawks have racked up a winning streak. They increased aid to Ukraine and criticized the administration for not expediting arms delivery or providing specific systems requested by the Ukrainian government. Defense-focused Republicans have also mobilized billions of dollars in increases to Biden’s military spending plans, aiming to achieve a national defense budget of $1 trillion over the next few years.

Disagreements have been more muted among Senate Republicans. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell aggressively pushed for more money in Ukraine, though fellow Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul delayed the rapid passage of Ukrainian aid in May.

The dynamics in a house led by the potential GOP are more complex. Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will face a growing right flank that has been a headache for leadership in the past and is already demanding federal spending.

How difficult the task for House Republican leaders is depends on the size of the GOP majority and “what percentage of them are the real activists as opposed to the more pragmatic segment,” Rep. mike rogers of Alabama, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee who is in line to chair the panel.

If the Republicans only get a small majority, he said, “It’s a disaster,”

“It will be like when we had the majority last time,” Rogers told POLITICO. “We will be paralyzed. Above all.”

“Whoever is the whip will have a lot of work ahead of him” to convince the conservatives, added Rep. Ken Calvert of California, the top Republican on the panel that controls Pentagon funding.

The conservative House Freedom Caucus is calling on GOP leaders to reject any government funding deals during the lame duck period after the midterms. Banking on control of the House and Senate, the group instead wants leaders to push for a funding freeze in the new year so Republicans can cut spending to levels last seen when Trump and the GOP were in charge.

That effort could complicate a GOP fight to increase Pentagon spending. And some conservatives say they want more accountability for emergency spending in Ukraine and potentially even compensation on the table.

“To me, we need to demand accountability for how this money is spent so that we know on a granular basis that it’s not just wasted in Ukraine,” the Freedom Caucus chairman said. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) said.

Roy and 41 other Republicans also pledged in a letter this week to oppose any funding patch that ends during the current Democratic-controlled Congress.

Biden has requested $11.7 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine to be included in a government funding deal. This includes $4.5 billion to arm Ukraine and replenish stockpiles of weapons shipped to Kyiv and $2.7 billion to continue military and intelligence support. The administration has also asked Congress to authorize the shipment of weapons worth an additional $3.6 billion to Ukraine.

The proposal comes as a Ukrainian counter-offensive continues to reclaim territory occupied by Russian forces.

The administration also signaled a shift toward long-term support for Kyiv as the war continues, including billions of dollars to fund contracts with the U.S. defense industry to produce artillery shells, missiles and other weapons rather than removing existing weapons from the market.

With just over a month to go until the midterm elections, some Democrats warn that handing the reins to Republicans will jeopardize US support for Ukraine.

“They’re all coming out and saying it openly,” the rep said. Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona) said. He argued that a GOP majority could mean that the money “is going away or that aid to Ukraine will be very hard to come by…and [Republicans] will be so rigid that they will not adapt to actual field conditions.

“It’s because Tucker Carlson controls the ideological spectrum when it comes to foreign policy and he’s a foreign policy jerk,” Gallego said.

“I spoke to some of the members who voted for pro-Ukrainian legislation in the past. They now have town halls where they come and get yelled at using Tucker Carlson talking points. And of course, at some point, they will face primaries.



Politico

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