Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says U.S. military and economic aid will continue to flow into Ukraine despite calls from some in his party for the United States to pull back from the war.
The future of U.S. support for Ukraine in its war against Russia has been clouded by some uncertainty since Republicans took control of the House in last year’s midterm election and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) pledged there would be no “blank check” for Ukraine if Republicans gained the lower chamber.
McConnell in an interview with Bloomberg News predicted, however, that there is enough support in Congress to sustain Ukraine’s defense.
“I do think that we have enough support within Congress to sustain this for a good deal longer,” McConnell said. “All the leadership in the House and Senate in my party is very much in favor of defeating the Russians.”
And he predicted the traditional Republican view of the need for a muscular national security policy to contain Moscow’s ambitions — as epitomized by former President Reagan’s policies — would become increasingly popular among GOP officeholders and voters.
“I do think the party of Ronald Reagan is coming back here,” he said. “I think the one good thing that’s come out of this is a renewed belief that national security is important.”
Congressional leaders included $45 billion for military and economic aid to Ukraine in the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package that President Biden signed in December.
They opted for such a large aid package in part because they anticipated difficulty passing spending legislation this year in a divided Congress, with Democrats in charge of the Senate and Republicans in control of the House.
Leaked U.S. intelligence documents that came to widespread public attention last month warned that Ukraine was running out of air defense missiles to keep Russian attack jets and helicopters away from ground forces, raising the question of whether Congress would need to pass another Ukraine aid package before year’s end.
So far, there has been little talk of providing more assistance to Ukraine as the president and leaders in Congress have focused more in recent weeks on the looming expiration of the debt ceiling.
McConnell praised McCarthy last week for reiterating his support for the war effort when a Russian reporter attempted to assert that the Speaker does not favor open-ended U.S. involvement in Ukraine’s defense.
“No, I vote for aid for Ukraine. I support aid for Ukraine. I do not support what your country has done to Ukraine. I do not support your killing of the children either,” McCarthy said. “And I think for one standpoint, you should pull out. And I don’t think it’s right. And we will continue to support.”