Republican senators’ blocking aid to Ukraine is next-level cynicism

(J Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Republican senators blocking aid to Ukraine is next-level cynicism

Op-ed, Ukraine

Jackie Calmes

Dec. 8, 2023

Just five months ago, President Biden pledged at a NATO summit that the United States and its allies would help defend Ukraine against Russia’s deliberate aggression for as long as necessary. Shortly after Vladimir Putin’s invasion, and amid the continued war crimes of his soldiers, former Vice President Mike Pence promised a room full of Republican donors: There is no room in this party for Putin apologists.

Promises made, promises broken.

Neither Biden nor Pence paid attention to the volatility and political cynicism of Republicans in Congress. And now the party, under the sway of Donald Trump’s dictator-coddled isolationism and seeking electoral advantage, has conditioned its support for aid to Ukraine on solving our domestic immigration problem, an issue that has been a bipartisan issue for nearly four decades. has defied solutions, under presidents of both countries. parties.

Worse, especially in the House of Representatives, is that many Republicans don’t really want a solution to immigration (or aid to Ukraine), hence their take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward their punitive proposals. They would rather have a 2024 campaign issue, given Biden’s vulnerability on the current border situation, to beat up on Democrats until Election Day.

Take the example of Senator John Cornyn, the Texas Republican hoping to succeed weakened Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell: This is not a traditional negotiation, where we expect to reach a bipartisan compromise on the border.

And as a result, to Putin’s delight and European allies’ chagrin, further US support for Ukraine is truly in doubt for the first time since Russia’s invasion 21 months ago.

That would make American solidarity with democratic Ukraine, so clearly in our national security interest, yet another victim of the political mismanagement and partisan hostage-taking that has become routine in Congress, wounding themselves and thus damaging the government. good as well as dysfunctional.

In one year, when the House of Representatives was recently under Republican (mis)management, Congress has flirted with debt restructuring and nearly shut down the government twice (another shutdown looms next month), a single senator blocked the promotions of hundreds military officers and turned their families upside down


and other vital legislation is languishing. And all because Republicans wanted an unrelated question about spending, abortion or fill-in-the-blank as the price for their support.

It has become a political truth, especially in Trumpian times: Republicans campaign on the issue that government doesn’t work, and once in power, they make it that way.

The stakes in Ukraine could hardly be higher, which makes the capriciousness of Republicans, including many who bill themselves as die-hard supporters, all the more despicable. Against expectations, Ukraine has held out for so long against the Russian onslaught, the toughest battle in Europe since World War II, only thanks to the help of the US and NATO. Without this support, Ukraine’s defeat is all but certain. No one denies this.

The day after a Russian victory, imagine how cocky and emboldened Putin would be. As Biden warned on Wednesday, hours before the Senate, Republicans blocked debate on his $111 billion package combining funds for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and yes, the US border: If Putin takes Ukraine, he won’t stop there .

In the crosshairs of the wannabe czars are former Soviet satellites turned NATO allies, which the United States is required to defend under the treaty. Then, Biden added, we have something we don’t want and don’t have today: American troops fighting Russian troops.

What we have now is a brave nation willing to fight and die, asking only that its allies provide the war materials it lacks and the economic and humanitarian aid it needs. It was a bargain: the Ukrainians have significantly weakened Russia, the United States and Europe’s biggest military threat. Not only is Putin’s army exhausted and divided, but his economy is a wreck, his citizens are restless and his own reputation as a strongman is in shambles.



For those shouting “America first,” let’s frame aid to Ukraine in terms they might appreciate. According to the White House, about 60% of the money to help Ukraine so far has been spent here at home, in the factories with high-paying jobs that produce the military equipment sent abroad, and on defense and intelligence operations that contribute to U.S. military preparedness.

McConnell himself put it this way in the New York Times: Ronald Reagan would be rolling in his grave if we missed an opportunity to rebuild our industrial base and eliminate Russian military personnel without losing anyone. And yet McConnell has led the way in opposing aid to Ukraine unless Republicans can still introduce undefined proposals for a crackdown on the borders. (It is not without reason that there is a biography of him entitled The Cynic.)

On immigration, Biden’s proposal includes billions to expand border operations, hire more agents for asylum cases and increase screenings to block immigration.

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fentanyl. The president rightly acknowledges that he and Congress must do more to fix the broken border system, and he is willing to make important compromises but not accept Republicans’ extreme demands.

Republicans in the House of Representatives and the Senate are at odds over the demands they openly mock, which is all the more reason that the overdue foreign aid package should not be delayed as Congress plans to pass it to be postponed for a year next year.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut said Monday: “Republicans have decided to hold Ukraine’s financing hostage to a domestic political priority that is among the most difficult to resolve in American politics.

Cornyn’s despicable response? This is a unique opportunity for us.

The hostage takers are damned with their prize, economic or national security.



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