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What’s the plan?

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WORLD Radio - What’s the plan?

Continued funding for Ukraine becomes a sticking point in debate to pass government funding bills


President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the East Room of the White House, Sept. 21. Associated Press/Photo by Evan Vucci, File

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: The battle over funding for Ukraine.

SOUND: [Artillery firing]

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began almost 20 months ago. What was expected to be a quick takeover turned into a bloody war of attrition, with both sides turning to friends and allies for material support to continue.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Many Americans support funding Ukraine’s defense as a matter of principle. But others are worried that the billions of dollars going to Kyiv are coming at the expense of domestic concerns. And those Americans’ representatives are listening.

BROWN: Lawmakers in Washington now have two business days left to pass legislation to fund the government for the next year and avoid a shutdown. Democrats have uniformly opposed House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s attempts to pass spending bills…but so have some Republicans as well.

REICHARD: While there are many issues that have slowed down votes, funding for Ukraine has proven to be a sticking point.

WORLD’s Washington intern Clara York has the story.

CLARA YORK, REPORTER: When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Washington last week, he received a warm welcome in the U.S. Senate. Here’s Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer after a closed-door meeting with Zelenskyy last Thursday

CHUCK SCHUMER: Mr Zelenskyy said, if we don't get the aid, we will lose the war. That's a quote from him.

But when Zelenskyy asked to address a joint session of Congress, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy declined. Instead, he had a private meeting with Zelenskyy and said this to reporters afterward:

MCCARTHY: We talked about a lot of different things. I thought it was a very good thought. It was a direct I thought it was productive. I raised issues with him. See, we're very concerned about accountability.

Pew Research found that in May of last year, 17 percent of Republican voters thought the U.S. was doing too much to aid Ukraine. That number has nearly tripled. In July, nearly a third of House Republicans voted for an amendment that would have blocked future funding for Ukraine.

The Senate passed a measure earlier this week to provide temporary funding for the government through November 17th, while giving 6 billion dollars to Ukraine. But it’s dead on arrival in the House, where some Republicans oppose bundling Ukraine spending with funding for domestic needs.

Here’s Republican representative Scott Perry on Tuesday, objecting to the fact that the Senate bill ties funding for Ukraine with funding for the Federal Aviation Administration.

SCOTT PERRY: Maybe both of those are important, Madam Speaker, but tell me why I've got to vote to keep airplanes flying in the United States and vote to spend money in a war 8,000 miles away. The American people are sick of that failure, that failure theater.

Many Republicans who oppose continuing to fund Ukraine say it is financially unsustainable and comes at the expense of responding to domestic problems. They’re concerned about the border and natural disaster relief. Here’s McCarthy again:

KEVIN MCCARTHY: They're picking Ukraine over Americans. Look, I know there's problems out there. What Russia has done is wrong and we can defend that. But we are also watching happening right here in America right now. Why can't we deal with the border and our emergencies too?

James Jay Carafano specializes in national security and foreign policy studies at the Heritage Foundation. He says those Republicans are representing the concerns of their constituents.

CARAFANO: Americans are deeply concerned about their personal lives, what's going on in the border, crime, immigration, inflation, the stuff that's really even China, because China's actually hitting them in their own pocketbooks. These are the issues that they're really concerned about. And these are the issues that they're really, really voting on.

So far, the U.S. has sent over 75 billion dollars in aid to Ukraine. Over 46 billion of that is military aid, including missiles, tanks, helicopters, infantry equipment, and more. In dollars, America has given billions more than any other country. But as a percentage of national GDP, or gross domestic product, America gives zero point three percent (0.3%), putting it seventeenth on the list. In first place, Norway has given far more with its roughly 1.7 percent.

But other Republicans argue that it is in America’s best interest to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia. Here’s Carafano:

CARAFANO: If Russia conquered Ukraine, that would be deeply destabilizing in Europe. It would not only empower the Russians to be more aggressive. This was essentially is exactly what the Chinese wanted. China wants a Europe that is divided, distracted, disorganized, and have the American presidents marginalize that plays to their strengths. So make no mistake, but defeat for Russia is a defeat for China, and China is the number one issue in American foreign policy today.

Many lawmakers say continued aid is vital to preventing a Russian victory… and future invasions. But Carafano argues that while the U-S has already given Ukraine enough aid to ensure victory, President Biden has failed to provide a plan for the future.

CARAFANO: He's never explained what the strategy is. He's asked for a blank check. He's tied Ukraine emergency funding to all kinds of things which are actually detrimental to the good life of everyday Americans, and kind of holding everything hostage, because we have to give money to Ukraine.

And that’s something many conservatives—inside and outside of Washington—are fed up with.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Clara York.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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