With echoes of Trump, GOP splinters over $40B for Ukraine
Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 5, 2022
Issue raised in Ohio’s U.S. Senate race
WASHINGTON (AP) — Signs of Republican resistance are mounting over a $40 billion aid package to Ukraine, a reemergence of the Trump-led isolationist wing of the GOP that’s coming at a crucial moment as the war against the Russian invasion deepens.
The Senate voted last month to advance the Ukraine aid bill 81-11, pushing it toward President Joe Biden’s desk by week’s end to become law. But more vocal objections from Republicans in Congress are sending warning signs after what has been rare and united support for Ukraine as it desperately battles hostile Russia. All 11 no votes came from Republican senators.
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It comes as Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell led a delegation of GOP senators to visit the region over the weekend in a show of support, vowing to push past detractors, finish up the aid package and vote this summer on expanding NATO to welcome Sweden and Finland. The leader finds himself holding down the GOP’s more traditional foreign policy approach, in direct confrontation with the GOP’s “America First” flank, including Donald Trump, the former president.
“There’s always been isolationist voices in the Republican Party,” McConnell told reporters on a conference call over the weekend from Stockholm. “It won’t create a problem, we’ll get the job done.”
The shift in Congress opens a new political phase in Ukraine’s fight for its survival against the Russian invasion, offering a wake-up call for the Biden administration about its strategy as it resists direct U.S. military troop involvement and depends on votes in the House and Senate to fund the military and humanitarian relief effort.
While a strong bipartisan majority is poised to approve the latest round of Ukraine aid, bringing the U.S. total to $53 billion since the start of Russia’s invasion, it’s clear that Republicans, and some Democrats, are wary of a prolonged intervention and demanding a more fulsome accounting of the U.S. role overseas. While the House overwhelmingly approved the $40 billion package last week, 57 Republicans voted against it.
The most vocal lawmakers are insisting Congress will not become a blank check for overseas action amid domestic needs as they move away from the U.S.’s longstanding role of championing democracy abroad.
“We have got to take care of things here at home first,” said Republican Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, the former Trump administration’s ambassador to Japan, on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”
On the campaign trail in Ohio, the U.S. Senate candidates, Democrat Tim Ryan and Trump-backed Republican JD Vance, have been brawling over the Ukraine assistance.
Vance, who quipped some months ago that he doesn’t really care what happens in Ukraine, tweeted last week that Ryan “is pushing billions in foreign aid while the communities he serves in Congress have been decimated.”
Ryan’s team released an ad suggesting Vance as a venture capitalist had profited off a social media platform that is used to spread Russian propaganda.