McConnell Sides with Biden on Bundling Ukraine, Israel Aid — ‘I View It as All Interconnected’

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he agrees with President Joe Biden on bundling Ukraine and Israel aid together.

Partial transcript as follows:

BRENNAN: Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has not done many interviews this year, but he invited us to Capitol Hill Friday to talk about President Biden’s request to Congress for $100 billion in aid for Ukraine, Israel and US border security. And that’s where our conversation began.

MCCONNELL: We have big power competition from China, and Russia and we still have terrorism problems, as the Israelis have certainly experienced in a brutal way in the last week. So I think that requires a worldwide approach rather than trying to take parts of it out. It’s all connected. The Chinese and the Russians said they’re now friends forever. Iranian drones are being used in Ukraine and against the Israelis.

BRENNAN: There’s resistance among some Republicans, including here in the Senate, about bundling things together. Is it possible to pass Ukraine aid if it’s not tied to Israel?

MCCONNELL: I just think that’s a mistake. I mean, I know there are some Republicans in the Senate, and maybe more in the House, saying Ukraine is somehow different. I view it as all interconnected.

BRENNAN: And you’ve said that you believe there is enough oversight of aid to Ukraine. Why hasn’t that persuaded some members of the- of the Republican caucus?

MCCONNELL: If you look at the Ukraine assistance, let’s- let’s talk about where the money is really going. A significant portion of its being spent in the United States in 38 different states, replacing the weapons that we sent to Ukraine with more modern weapons. So we’re rebuilding our industrial base.

BRENNAN: That’s what President Biden is seeking to do.

MCCONNELL: It’s- it’s correct. No Americans are getting killed in Ukraine. We’re rebuilding our industrial base. The Ukrainians are destroying the army of one of our biggest rivals. I have a hard time finding anything wrong with that. I think it’s wonderful that they’re defending themselves- and also the notion that the Europeans are not doing enough. They’ve done almost 90 billion dollars, they’re housing a bunch of refugees who escaped. I think that our NATO allies in Europe have done quite a lot.

BRENNAN: You sound like you have a lot in common with President Biden, and his worldview, based on what you just laid out.

MCCONNELL: Well, not on the domestic side, but on this issue that we- we’re discussing today, we’re generally in the same place.

BRENNAN: On the issue of Israel, that does seem to be a unifying issue for many Republicans, and I want to ask you about this 10 billion dollar request the President is making. Do you think there needs to be any provisions in there that would account for the risk of human rights- human rights violations in Gaza?

MCCONNELL: Well, we want to make sure we’re not sending money to Hamas. I can tell you that. But there are genuine humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza who are not Hamas, who’ve been thrown under the bus by what Hamas did. Innocent people. But we want to be careful about how the money is spent, be sure it actually gets where it’s supposed to get.

BRENNAN: For any military aid that’s going to Israel right now, do you think there needs to be- need to be strings attached?

MCCONNELL: Israel is our strongest ally in the world. We trust them, and we have a very tight relationship with them both on the intelligence side and the military side. So I don’t think the kind of oversight we’re talking about for Ukraine, for example, would be necessary for Israel.

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN


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