The fate of additional U.S. aid to Ukraine could hinge on next week’s vote to elect a new House speaker.
What You Need To Know
- The fate of additional U.S. aid to Ukraine could hinge on next week’s vote to elect a new House speaker
- Support from House Republicans to help Ukraine in its war against Russia is waning
- The two Republicans who have to date announced they are running have differing views on Ukraine — Majority Leader Steve Scalise has supported aid to Kyiv, while Rep. Jim Jordan opposes it
- A Pentagon official warned congressional leaders last week that the U.S. has nearly exhausted all available security assistance funding for Ukraine and had just $1.6 billion left of the $25.9 billion Congress authorized to replenish the U.S. military’s inventory for the weapons and supplies it has provided to Kyiv
Support from House Republicans to help Ukraine in its war against Russia is waning. A vote last week to authorize supplemental appropriations to Kyiv through next September cleared the House, but 117 Republicans voted against it while 101 voted for it.
“Ukraine has lost the support of a majority of the majority,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., the architect of the motion to oust Kevin McCarthy from the speakership this week, said in a floor speech Monday.
The stopgap spending bill passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden last weekend did not include any additional assistance for Ukraine. In a letter last week, Pentagon Chief Financial Officer Michael McCord warned congressional leaders that the U.S. has nearly exhausted all available security assistance funding for Ukraine and had just $1.6 billion left of the $25.9 billion Congress authorized to replenish the U.S. military’s inventory for the weapons and supplies it has provided to Kyiv.
Max Bergmann, director of the Europe, Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote Monday in a post on X, formerly Twitter, “The chaos in the House leaves Ukraine in a dangerous limbo.”
“Let’s be clear, if the US congress does not pass a funding bill, Ukraine will be in deep trouble,” wrote Bergmann, a former State Department official in the Obama administration. “A lot of Ukrainians will die and their ability to fight on will be severely compromised.”
Ukraine will likely be a key issue when Congress votes on a new speaker next week. The two Republicans who have to date announced they are running have differing views on Ukraine.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., has consistently supported Ukraine funding, including during last week’s vote. Defending Democracy Together’s report card grading Republicans on their support for Ukraine gives Scalise a B grade — high marks for his voting record but a lower mark for his neutral comments on the subject.
In his “Dear Colleague” letter asking House Republicans to support him for speaker, Scalise listed a number of issues facing lawmakers but made no mention of Ukraine.
Rep. Jim Jordan, meanwhile, has an F on the report card.
Jordan told reporters Wednesday he opposes additional Ukraine funding.
“The most pressing issue on Americans’ minds is not Ukraine,” he said. “It’s the border situation, and it’s crime on the streets.”
Jordan’s office later tried to clarify that Jordan wants to “know what the mission is” and “how the money is being spent.”
Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Hern, who has signaled he, too, plans to run for speaker, expressed a similar opinion Wednesday, adding President Joe Biden needs to brief skeptical lawmakers in a classified setting. Hern, too, received an F on the Ukraine report card.
The candidates’ views on Ukraine, regardless of their position, could be an obstacle in reaching the 218 votes needed to win the speakership, particularly if Democrats remain united behind Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.
There is still significant support for funding Ukraine among House Republicans. But there are others who are adamantly opposed to it.
On Monday, the eve of Speaker McCarthy’s ouster, Gaetz attacked McCarthy for allegedly striking a “secret side deal” with Biden to fund Ukraine, something the former speaker has denied.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., has vowed not to support any speaker candidate who is in favor of additional Ukraine aid.
And Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., wrote on X on Wednesday, “Not a penny more” for Ukraine.
Democrats, meanwhile, are reportedly discussing the possibility of using a discharge petition, which requires signatures from a majority of House members, to force a vote on Ukraine funding. More than 72% of the full House voted in favor of last week’s Ukraine bill.
Biden said Wednesday there might be “another means” to provide aid to Kyiv, but he did not elaborate. He said plans to soon give a major speech on Ukraine. The president received a briefing on Ukraine Thursday from his national security team.
Also Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attended a summit of the European Political Community in Granada, Spain, where he asked for more Western support, saying that “Russian terror must be stopped.”
“Russia needs this and similar terrorist attacks for only one thing: to make its genocidal aggression the new norm for the whole world,” he said in a statement posted on his Telegram channel. “Now we are talking with European leaders, in particular, about strengthening our air defense, strengthening our soldiers, giving our country protection from terror. And we will respond to the terrorists.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.