Democrats have tied an additional $24 billion in Ukraine aid funds as part of the spending package needed to pass Congress to avoid an October government shutdown. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is having none of it, refusing to commit more aid without accountability.
During Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky’s upcoming meeting with lawmakers in Washington, McCarthy plans to grill him on the use of over $70 billion in aid his country has already received from the United States.
McCarthy is giving a voice to the more than 55% of concerned Americans who oppose sending additional funding to Ukraine. Per a CNN poll conducted in August, fifty-one percent said that America has already done more than its fair share. It’s a stark contrast to public sentiment in February 2022, when 62% of Americans felt that the U.S. should play a bigger part in aiding Ukraine.
According to the poll, nearly four out of five respondents expressed concern that the Ukraine conflict will carry on without a resolution for an extended period. Additionally, 64% of those surveyed expressed concern about an emboldened Putin and Russia eyeing global expansion.
It seems that McCarthy is listening to Americans, repeating his belief that the United States should not offer Ukraine a “blank check.” While he is critical of Russia’s actions, he has stressed the importance of fiscal responsibility and accountability for taxpayer dollars.
Zelenskyy’s last visit to the United States was in December of 2022 to receive $50 billion and to thank the United States for its financial backing in the ongoing conflict. It’s widely expected that his upcoming visit will involve a plea for more U.S. money.
During his visit in December, Zelenskyy clarified that the financial aid was “not for charity.” At the time, he called it “an investment in the global security and democracy,” adding that it would be handled “in the most responsible way.” He also used his time before the congressional audience to plead for more financial aid.
Reports have surfaced that Zelenskyy’s idea of “the most responsible way” to handle the money is via direct infusion into his personal bank accounts. Much of the funding appears to be supporting Zelenskyy’s government rather than being used for humanitarian aid purposes for which it was intended.
In addition to financial aid, the United States has supplied Ukraine with military equipment including 31 Abrams tanks,186 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, over 500 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs), a Patriot air defense battery and munitions, 12 National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) and munitions, 198 155mm Howitzers with more than 2,000,000 155mm artillery rounds, and 300,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition and grenades.
McCarthy plans to use Zelenskyy’s upcoming visit to get some answers. “Where’s the accountability on the money we’ve already spent? What is the plan for victory? I think that’s what the American public wants to know,” he responded when asked if he was committing to more financial aid to Ukraine.
McCarthy represents a growing number of congressional Republicans who are souring on continued support of Ukraine, especially at a time when the United States economy is in tatters. In July, one-third of House Republicans voted to block new funding for Ukraine.
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is one of those most vocally opposed, taking to X to state her opposition, posting, ‘I will not vote to fund a single penny to the war in Ukraine.”
Other Republicans share McCarthy’s cautious approach, seeking accountability before sending additional funding. But some, like Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), would like to see the monetary floodgates open and flowing to Ukraine with little oversight or accountability.
But how much is too much, and when is enough enough? As the United States lurches towards a historic $33 trillion in national debt, America is not in the position to be the world’s ATM. Biden will be well advised to take note of former president Donald Trump’s “America First” approach.
Recent revelations have come to light, however, making it clear that Ukraine is important to Biden, but not for altruistic reasons. It’s more of a personal debt that will be paid by American taxpayers throughout the months and years to come. Consider the aid a “friendship loan,” where Americans are the co-signers.