Senior US Senate Republicans say Congress should move quickly to pass new funding for Ukraine, even as the push has faced headwinds from conservatives in the House of Representatives.
The dispute centers around if Ukraine funding will be tied to the short-term spending bill to avoid a shutdown by the end of the month.
Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN that the Ukraine aid will “probably” be attached to the short-term funding bill.
Graham had choice words for conservatives who oppose Ukraine aid:
“To these people who say it’s not in our interest to support Ukraine, you’re the same folks that criticize (US President Joe) Biden for getting out of Afghanistan. You’re right to do that. Pulling the plug on Ukraine and letting (Russian President Vladimir) Putin get away with this invasion will destabilize the world more than Afghanistan,” he said.
Graham, who went to Ukraine with a congressional delegation in August, said Kyiv’s forces are “on the offensive.”
“I expect major breakthroughs by the end of October. Now’s not the time to pull the plug on Ukraine and reward Putin for his invasion. So a supplemental, in my view, needs to address Ukraine because this is in our national interest,” he said.
Sen. Thom Tillis also said Ukraine funding and disaster relief should be tied together.
“I do support the disaster relief funding,” he said. “I feel very strongly that if we can, time is of the essence, we should work in the Ukraine funding at the same time. The president’s drawdown authority is probably only going to last for another month or two, and we have to replenish it to make it clear to Russia that we’re in for the long term.”
He said they will have to push for the skeptical House Republicans to recognize the importance of Ukraine aid.
“The value of the Western world waking up and understanding all of the vulnerabilities that we’ve had is hard to estimate. And I think we have to go and communicate to reasonable-minded members that we have to sustain the investment,” he said, before echoing Graham. “It would make Afghanistan, which I think was a horrible failure of American leadership, look like child’s play, if we fail to do it in Ukraine.”
The Senate’s number-two Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin, said that tying Ukraine aid to government funding legislation would send a message that the US will not abandon Ukraine. “I think it’s important that we continue our assistance to Ukraine without any suggestion of our weakening resolve,” he said.
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, who has long been a critic of US aid for Ukraine, argued that tying it to disaster funding would be “a mistake.”
“I’ve said over and over again on Ukraine aid: Who we ought to be going to for Ukraine aid are our European allies. I’m against more money for Ukraine, I’m particularly against it when we don’t have an inspector general, any kind of watchdog,” he said.
Pressed on whether Speaker Kevin McCarthy should keep any Ukraine aid out of stopgap legislation to fund the government, Hawley replied, “I think so. Yeah, I think so. you know what he does will be up to him, but I don’t support it.”