Republican party at war over Ukraine funding - GulfToday

Republican party at war over Ukraine funding

Eric Garcia


Eric Garcia is the Washington bureau chief and senior Washington Correspondent at the Independent.

Ron Desantis

Ron Desantis

The fight amongst Republicans about how to keep the government open has many facets, but perhaps one of the most fraught ones includes whether to include support for Ukraine. And it is coming just as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is about to come to Washington. Earlier this year, I reported how Republican backing for Ukraine was always fraught, with some being sceptical about US support for the country as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues his assault and some elected officials are outright hostile to Ukraine and Zelensky. The split between pro-Ukraine and anti-Ukraine Republicans came on full display during the first GOP presidential primary debate as well.

But now Republicans have the ability to actually do something to change support for Ukraine. Much of the support for the country came when Democrats had a trifecta and when many Democrats, including progressives like Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, voted for aid to the country.  Now the spigot might turn off as Republicans control the House of Representatives, which has always been more at ease with the MAGA style of politics than the Senate. During last week’s Pray Vote Stand Summit, Rep Chip Roy (R-TX), a member of the House Freedom Caucus, said onstage that “we cannot continue having a blank check going to Ukraine without dealing with what need to do at home first.” Roy supports Florida Gov Ron DeSantis, who has in the past called the war in Ukraine a “territorial dispute.”

At the first Republican debate, DeSantis said Europe needed to do its part to support Ukraine, a view Sen Josh Hawley (R-MO) shares, adding that the United States should focus on China.

“But what we ought to be telling, really our European allies is we ought to be saying, Listen, you guys have got to take the lead on this,” he said, specificially, Hawley said that he opposed additional funding if there would not be an inspector general to look into the money.

(In fact, the EU has so far contributed about $21bn in military aid and another $41bn in economic support. The UK has donated about $4.6bn in military assistance.)

Sen Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has also opposed supporting Ukraine, specifically the fact that Zelensky fired his defence minister and six of his deputy defence ministers.

“Something’s going wrong,” he said.

Rep Byron Donalds (R-FL) is leading negotiations on behalf of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus on a continuing resolution to keep the government open alongside Roy. Donalds said there would be no funding for Ukraine in such a resolution. “President Zelensky coming, that’s cool,” he said on Monday just outside House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s office. “But I think the American people are sick and tired or their needs being neglected, while we take care of the rest of the world. And that’s one of the reasons why you have members who have issues with Ukraine funding.”  This of course puts McCarthy in a bind since he is set to meet with Zelensky when he arrives on Capitol Hill. McCarthy as the speaker will have to explain to Zelensky why there will be little to no funding for Ukraine in front of reporters, despite his occasional tough talk about Russia.

For their part, the hawks within the GOP don’t seem that phased by the gnashing of teeth. Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a longtime critic of Russia like his friend the late John McCain, said that there will be a supplemental bill that will include money for Hawaii, Ukraine and the military. He also said what he plans to discuss with Zelensky.

“Tell him to make the case and what happens if we pulled the plug,” he said. ‘And also, they’re doing incredibly well. They’ve taken back half the territory from the Russians.” Sen Susan Collins (R-ME), the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, did not seem too bothered.

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