A group of 28 Republicans in the House and Senate released a letter to the White House on Thursday saying they’re opposed to authorizing more spending on the Ukraine war as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Washington.
The Republicans said there were too many unanswered questions related to what the US goals were in Ukraine and how long the conflict will last. “For these reasons — and certainly until we receive answers to the questions above and others forthcoming — we oppose the additional expenditure for war in Ukraine included in your request,” they wrote.
President Biden has asked for an additional $24 billion for Ukraine, which would bring total US spending on the proxy war to about $137 billion. The White House and Democrats in Congress want to include the money in a funding bill that needs to be passed before September 30 to avert a government shutdown.
But the prospect seems unlikely as the Republican-controlled House is battling over spending levels and has failed to move forward with its Pentagon funding bill. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) also did not include the $24 billion in new Ukraine aid in the House stop-gap funding bill that would avert a shutdown, which is not expected to pass as it is.
The aid is expected to ultimately get approved, but not as quickly as the White House would like. Even some Republicans in the House who support spending more on the Ukraine war say it’s not a priority since the Pentagon still has billions to use to ship weapons that was made available by a Pentagon “accounting error” that overvalued previous arms shipments.
The situation in Washington is much different than when Zelensky last visited in December 2022, when he was given a hero’s welcome and spoke before Congress. McCarthy said that he declined a request for the Ukrainian leader to address a joint session of Congress this time around because “we just didn’t have time.”
Instead of a dramatic speech, Zelensky held a closed-door meeting with dozens of Senators and separate talks with some members of the House. POLITICO reported that Ukraine aid “skeptics” were not swayed by the Ukrainian leader’s visit.
“His comment was, ‘It’s a totally frozen conflict,'” said Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), who favors prioritizing arming Taiwan instead of Ukraine. “And I think his other comment was ‘Everything depends on the United States.’ Sounds more and more sort of like Vietnam in the day to me, if I’m going to be honest. So what he said was basically a recipe for just shy of needing to land American troops.”
After meeting with Congress, Zelensky headed to the Pentagon and the White House, where he received pledges for a new weapons package and long-term support. Despite Ukraine’s faltering counteroffensive, the Biden administration is determined to continue fueling the proxy war for as long as possible.