GOP and Ukraine

There have been several months of no financial aid to Ukraine due to the republicans in the house of representatives. Some say that is good as sending billions of dollars to fight a war in Europe is taking money away from the needs here in the U.S. The republicans’ slim majority in the house makes the more conservative part of the party disproportionately powerful. The majority will shrink even more later this month when Wisconsin republican Mike Gallagher steps down, leaving the house republicans only able to afford a single defection on any vote as long as democrats stick together, and they tend to do that.  

At the same time, the republicans know that they can lose the majority by more deflections before the November election and a majority for the democrats in the house combined with the senate and the presidency, would be a disaster for the republicans. But some house republicans do not seem to care, such as Marjorie Taylor Greene. This might become a headache for house speaker Mike Johnson as he will try to get a vote to send around $60 billion more to Ukraine.

Overall, the republicans are more skeptical to aid to Ukraine than the democrats. Biden and the democrats have a distinct goal with Ukraine, to bring it into NATO. They are ready to spend any money, hundreds of billions, to achieve this goal. Growing NATO has long been a goal of the powerful military-industrial complex and the democrats as they need new markets for growth and more revenues. Most aid is in effect given to the U.S. military producers who then send the equipment to Ukraine.

In a recent poll by American Action Network, only about 60% of all voters say they favor funding for Ukraine. For people aged 49 and younger, the support is 50% and for voters over 65 years old, the support is 80%. Retired people might not care about expenses and might still have Cold War thinking, but younger people would rather see money going to education, healthcare, battle poverty and mental illness, and climate change issues to mention a few. Sending money to one of the most corrupt countries in the world, Ukraine, seems like a total waste of money.

Either way, the house speaker Mike Johnson is on shaky ground. For two months, Johnson has refused to take up a senate-approved supplemental aid package that includes $60 billion to Ukraine. He struggles to balance the interests of GOP isolationists with more traditional republicans. The republicans had hoped to get something in return from the democrats for supporting aid to Ukraine like a tougher southern border policy, but at this point they seem to be ready to move for a vote for the bill regardless as Ukraine is losing more ground to Russia. Ukraine has grown impatient with the U.S. as its ammunition supplies dwindle, with Russia making steady territorial gains.

More conservative and right-wing republicans have increasingly questioned American support for Kyiv due to its expense and lack of transparency. Following months of political deadlock over the Ukrainian aid, Johnson pledged American support following events in the Middle East over that concerned another US ally, Israel. Israel came under attack from a barrage of Iranian missiles and drones, following an earlier strike on an Iranian consulate building in Syria for which Israel is widely believed to have been responsible.

Mike Johnson went on to explain that the $96 billion package of mixed aid, which has already been approved by the senate, would not be put to a vote in its current form. Instead, there will be a separate vote on each of these measures in four different pieces. The White House has opposed any standalone measure that supports Israel solely.

Writing on X, Johnson explained that the newly separated bills were intended to support not only Ukraine and Israel, but also strengthen our allies in the Indo-Pacific and pass additional measures to counter our adversaries and strengthen our national security. The package passed by the Senate also included assistance for Taiwan.

The speaker has previously expressed support for legislation that would structure new Ukraine support in the form of loans, suggesting costs could be covered by authorizing the U.S. government to seize and sell Russian assets frozen since the start of the Ukraine conflict. This component could also be voted on as part of the proposed package of measures.

As the election is getting closer, voters clearly question why the U.S. is running a proxy war in Europe and sending billions of dollars to Ukraine when politicians are not focused on domestic problems. The GOP needs to stick together to save their majority in the house of representatives. This is the most important issue for them until the November election even if it means sending more money to Ukraine. It does seem to be a waste of money, but at this point the GOP needs to stay united.

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