Eleven Republican senators opposed their leadership and voted Monday against a motion that put forward a $40 billion security assistance package for Ukraine, a sign of growing GOP opposition to US efforts to end the bloody three-month-old invasion of the Russian Federation. President Vladimir Putin against it.
The security package is not expected to be passed until later this week, as a single Republican senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, objects to a quick vote on the measure.
Paul has demanded that the legislation give an inspector general the power to oversee spending, which he called unprecedented and fiscally unsound. But Democrats said this would require a re-vote in the House and cost precious time given Russia’s daily bombing of Ukrainian cities, causing horrific scenes of death and destruction.
In his keynote address earlier Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) criticized Paul’s efforts to delay the passage of the bill as “totally unacceptable,” saying it was “in the long run.” term only strengthens Putin’s hand.”
Oleksandra Ustinova, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, complained that the delay would cost lives in a post on Twitter:
Ten other Republican senators along with Paul on Monday voted against the motion to advance the security package; many of these senators have made supportive statements about Ukraine’s plight after the Russian invasion:
Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.)
John Boozman (Arch.)
Mike Braun (Ind.)
Mike Crapo (Idaho)
Bill Hagerty (Tenn.)
Josh Hawley (Mo.)
Mike Lee (Utah)
Roger Marshall (Can.)
Tommy Tuberville (Ala.)
The list of lawmakers obstructing aid to Ukraine has grown steadily over the past month. Last week, 57 Republicans in the House voted against Ukraine’s welfare law. Two months ago, only three GOP House members voted against a separate security package.
Supporters of former President Donald Trump and right-wing pundits, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson, have ramped up rhetoric against US support for aid to Ukraine. Trump also questioned the spending measure last week, linking it to baby food shortages blamed on a safety recall and supply chain problems.
“The Democrats are sending another $40 billion to Ukraine, but America’s parents are even struggling to feed their children,” Trump said in a statement from his super PAC.
sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.) argued spending $40 billion on Ukraine “isn’t in America’s interest”, adding on Twitter that it “allows Europe to freeload, neglects priorities at home (the border), allows Europe to “freeload”, critical interests abroad briefly change and comes without meaningful oversight.”
But Senator Rick Scott (Fla.), a deficit hawk and, like Hawley, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, voted in favor of the bill. Trump’s main ally called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “a threat to our national security and the security of our democratic allies.” He added: “America must always protect our interests and support democracy over tyranny.”
Monday’s vote to advance the Ukraine package came on the heels of a trip to Kiev by Republican Senate leaders, including minority leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.). After meeting President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, McConnell told reporters he assured him “that support for Ukraine and this war against the Russians is twofold,” including from “an overwhelming majority of Republicans.”
McConnell also expressed opposition to Ukraine’s aid from his party’s Trump wing in a statement released after the trip.
“Ukraine is not asking anyone else to join their fight,” he said. “They only ask for the tools they need for self-defense.”
“America’s support for Ukraine’s self-defense is not mere philanthropy,” he added. “Defending the principle of sovereignty, promoting stability in Europe and imposing charges on Russia’s naked aggression have a direct and vital impact on America’s national security and vital interests.”