As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits Capitol Hill, the issue of aid to Ukraine remains a contentious topic. Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, has been unsuccessful in advancing a bill to fund the Defense Department for the second time. This failure keeps the U.S. government on track for a potential shutdown on October 1. According to Politico, confidential discussions are taking place between small groups of centrist Democrats and close allies of McCarthy to find a last-minute solution to keep the government funded.
Bipartisan Efforts and Conservative Holdouts
The bipartisan group is exploring two main strategies: forcing a vote on a compromise spending plan or crafting a bill that could garner enough support. Such a bill would likely include short-term funding, some disaster relief money, aid for Ukraine, and modest border policies. However, conservative members of the GOP are focusing on the contentious issues of aid to Ukraine and U.S. border policies, complicating the passage of any funding bill.
New York Rep. Mike Lawler, a Republican in a challenging electoral district, has been particularly vocal in private meetings about the possibility of signing a discharge petition to force a vote. Lawler emphasized the need for the House Republican majority to govern effectively and keep the government funded.
McCarthy’s Struggle and GOP Resistance
McCarthy has faced difficulties rallying his party members behind a GOP-only bill combining short-term funding with spending cuts and a Republican border policy. Some Republicans believe that bipartisan efforts could pressure conservative members to stop opposing any solution. In contrast, others argue that those who want to “burn the place down” won’t care either way.
Concerns Over Ukraine Aid
As for the proposed $24 billion in aid for Ukraine, some Republicans are becoming increasingly vocal about the need for America to address its domestic issues before sending aid abroad. McCarthy has also tried to appeal to President Biden to address border issues before funding Ukraine.
Zelensky’s Visit and Congressional Sentiments
Zelensky is expected to meet with President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy during his visit. McCarthy has promised to ask tough questions, questioning the accountability of previous aid and asking about Ukraine’s plans for victory. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer criticized the lack of Ukraine funding in the House proposal, calling it “a gift to Putin.”
GOP Leaders Reject Additional Aid
A new letter from GOP Congressional leaders to the White House has vowed to reject the additional $24 billion in aid for Ukraine. The letter, signed by 23 House members and six senators, criticizes the Biden administration for an “open-ended commitment” to Ukraine and questions the clarity of the strategy involved.
Fiscal Concerns and Questions
Senator Rand Paul pointed out the fiscal irresponsibility of sending more aid, stating that the U.S. has “no extra money to send to Ukraine.” The GOP letter also raises key questions about the effectiveness of the aid, asking about the counteroffensive in Ukraine and the U.S. exit strategy.
A Brewing Conflict
As the debate over Ukraine aid intensifies, it comes at an inopportune time for Zelensky. With fiscal hawks in the GOP questioning the wisdom of additional aid and a government shutdown looming, the Ukrainian President faces an uphill battle in rallying Congressional Republicans behind further financial support for his country.
The issue of aid to Ukraine has become a flashpoint in American politics, with GOP lawmakers increasingly questioning the wisdom and accountability of such financial commitments. As bipartisan efforts to fund the government continue, the fate of Ukraine aid hangs in the balance, making Zelensky’s visit to the U.S. all the more critical.