Nearly two dozen Republican senators and lawmakers on Thursday came out against more funding for Ukraine, just as the country’s president arrived in Washington, DC, to urge Congress to pass an additional $24 billion in aid that would bring total U.S. support to Ukraine to at least $135 billion since its war with Russia began.
Led by Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), six senators and 23 House lawmakers wrote in a letter delivered to White House Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young:
The American people deserve to know what their money has gone to. How is the counteroffensive going? Are the Ukrainians any closer to victory than they were 6 months ago? What is our strategy, and what is the president’s exit plan? What does the administration define as victory in Ukraine? What assistance has the United States provided Ukraine under Title 10? It would be an absurd abdication of congressional responsibility to grant this request without knowing the answers to these questions. 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.
Vance said in a post that after a Biden administration briefing on Wednesday, it “became clear that America is being asked to fund an indefinite conflict with unlimited resources.”
“Enough is enough,” he posted. “To these and future requests, my colleagues and I say: NO.”
Yesterday at a classified briefing over Ukraine, it became clear that America is being asked to fund an indefinite conflict with unlimited resources.
Enough is enough. To these and future requests, my colleagues and I say: NO. pic.twitter.com/mCMh604UGp
— J.D. Vance (@JDVance1) September 21, 2023
Lee, one of the signatories, posted that when senators asked during the briefing how much the conflict in Ukraine would cost the U.S. in the next 14 months, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “came up with a staggering estimate of $100 billion,” in addition to the $113 billion already spent.
When asked by senators how much the conflict on Ukraine will cost the United States in the next 14 months, @SecDef came up with a staggering estimate of $100 billion—in addition to the $113 billion Congress has already spent on that effort! pic.twitter.com/jRTRACuYuI
— Mike Lee (@BasedMikeLee) September 20, 2023
The letter noted that the approximately $113 billion did not even “reflect the full picture.”
“The vast majority of Congress remains unaware of how much the United States has spent to date in total on this conflict, information which is necessary for Congress to prudently exercise its appropriations power. It is difficult to envision a benign explanation for this lack of clarity,” they wrote, adding:
Your request cites President Biden’s pledge that ‘we will stand with Ukraine as it defends its sovereignty for as long as it takes.’ Andrew Desiderio of PunchBowl News has received a background quote from a senior administration official stating the White House ‘won’t be bashful about going back to the Congress beyond the first quarter of next year.’ … These statements imply an open-ended commitment to supporting the war in Ukraine of an indeterminate nature, based on a strategy that is unclear, to achieve a goal yet to be articulated to the public or the Congress.
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.
The letter signatories included: Republican Sens. Rand Paul (KY), Mike Lee (UT), Mike Braun (IN), Roger Marshall (KS), Tommy Tuberville (AL), Roger Williams (TX), and Reps. Paul Gosar (AZ), Clay Higgins (LA), Dan Bishop (TX), Harriet Hageman (WY), Bill Posey (FL), Bob Good, (VA), Warren Davidson (OH), Eli Craine (AZ), Anna Paulina Luna (FL), Jeff Duncan (SC), W. Gregory Steube (FL), Beth Van Duyne (TX), Josh Brecheen (OK), Lance Gooden (TX), Andy Ogles (TN), Mary E. Miller (IL), Andy Biggs (AZ), Byron Donalds (FL), Russell Fry (SC), Michael Cloud (TX), and Troy Nehls (TX).
And there are other Republican lawmakers and senators who have expressed opposition to more Ukraine funding, including Reps. Matt Gaetz (FL), Tim Burchett (TN), Mike Garcia (CA), and Kat Cammack (FL), according to the Washington Post.
While a majority of Republicans in the House and Senate have expressed support for more Ukraine aid, there are now enough dissenters to throw a wrench in those plans — something both House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will have to reckon with. And some signatories indicated their minds would not be changed.
Marshall (R-KS) said Thursday he would not even attend a scheduled meeting with Zelensky:
I will not support another cent going to Ukraine. At a time when our nation is facing a historic debt crisis, a wide-open southern border with fentanyl, Chinese military-aged nationalists, known terrorists, and cartels pouring into our country, I can’t even understand how this body can justify sending another blank check to Zelenskyy.
The U.S. is hemorrhaging money we do not have to pay for this war while the EU and other leaders on the world stage are absent. Since the war began, American taxpayers have blindly been forced to give Ukraine over $113B, and we have no idea where that money has gone. There is no strategy, no exit plan, and no accountability from Zelenskyy. My priority is securing our American homeland, not sitting through another charade.
For those reasons and a litany of others, I will not be attending today’s meeting.
Read my statement on President Zelenskyy’s Senate Visit ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/7zcWxoDdy5
— Dr. Roger Marshall (@RogerMarshallMD) September 21, 2023
However, Democrats and members of the Biden administration are expressing optimism that Congress will eventually approve the additional $24 billion, with Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley earlier this week pledging support for “as long as it takes.”
Milley said at a press briefing earlier this week that the U.S. and allies could sustain the war, because they are “rich.”
“Can we continue to do this? The short answer is yes, we can continue to do this, and the United States and its allied countries are rich, powerful, with significant resources, military resources that are capable of sustaining this fight, in President Biden’s words, as long as it takes,” he said.
And McConnell, a supporter of more money to Ukraine, posted a photo on X of Zelensky arriving to the Senate, adding that he was “proud” to welcome him to the Capitol.
“I was proud to welcome President @ZelenskyyUa to the Capitol this morning and hear firsthand about the status of Ukraine’s counteroffensive. American support for Ukraine is not charity. It’s in our own direct interests – not least because degrading Russia helps to deter China,” he posted.
I was proud to welcome President @ZelenskyyUa to the Capitol this morning and hear firsthand about the status of Ukraine’s counteroffensive.
American support for Ukraine is not charity. It’s in our own direct interests – not least because degrading Russia helps to deter China. pic.twitter.com/u0W32MIRrw
— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) September 21, 2023