With GOP skeptics of Ukraine aid poised to gain seats in Congress, lawmakers look to lock in a huge military assistance package

By | October 20, 2022

NBC News reports:

Amid concerns that a new Congress could take a more skeptical view of aid to Ukraine, lawmakers from both parties are looking to lock in billions of dollars in military assistance to Kyiv before newly elected members are sworn in in January, according to a lawmaker and congressional staffers.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who is poised to take over as speaker if the GOP wins a majority in the House in the November midterm elections, warned this week that his fellow party members are “not going to write a blank check to Ukraine.”

With that threat to Ukraine aid looming, the bipartisan idea under consideration would use a government funding bill during the lame-duck session after the midterms to secure a much higher level of military and other assistance than prior aid packages for Ukraine, according to the lawmaker and the aides.

Congress last month approved $12 billion in military and economic aid to Ukraine, but the package being contemplated would be dramatically larger, the sources said.

The amount would be enough “to make sure [Ukraine] can get through the year,” a Republican senator with knowledge of the matter told NBC News. “It’ll make the $12 billion look like pocket change.”

The new aid package, which most likely would be part of an omnibus spending bill, could be within the range of roughly $50 billion, congressional aides and a source close to the Ukraine government said. The Biden administration has not yet made a formal request for new funding.

Congress has allocated a total of $65 billion in funding to Ukraine since Russia attacked the country in February. [Continue reading…]

Politico reports:

Privately, Biden aides believe that McCarthy will blink and keep the funnel open to Ukraine, at least for a while, though he may insist on smaller numbers. They also forecast internal pressure from Republicans — some from House members like Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, and more in the Senate, including from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (who’s exerted it before) — to keep the money flowing.

Their calculus is that a political blowback would singe the GOP if the money stopped, Ukraine suffered, and Russia emerged triumphant.

There are some signs that, on this front, the White House may have allies in a GOP-led Congress, or at least sympathetic ears. [Continue reading…]

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