From Mitch McConnell on down, the Senate’s pro-Ukraine coalition is trying to reassure the U.S. ally that help will soon be on the way — even after a bruising GOP confrontation over keeping the government open snuffed out billions in immediate new aid.
But for that bipartisan group — which has served as a bulwark against growing House Republican opposition to continued aid — the past week has been a rude awakening. Not until now has the depth of division and tricky politics within the Republican Party been so apparent. And Senate leaders are now doing damage control after the omission of Ukraine aid and plotting to ensure a continued stream of military aid to Ukraine.
The next three months are critical, according to interviews with more than a dozen lawmakers and aides in both parties, and Republicans are signaling that the best shot at delivering Ukraine the weapons it needs will require a single funding bill that can last through the 2024 election, avoiding a series of protracted battles that could sap momentum.
“It’s obvious that there’s some fatigue. And so my own view is we need to do it one time,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). “We don’t want to do this again every three months. Obviously, that’s open for discussion. But I’m for one and done.”
Democrats’ anger over the episode over the past few days is palpable. Mild-mannered Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado was so upset by the lack of Ukraine funding that he delayed action on the bill until late Saturday night. The majority party is now recalibrating how to move forward.
“We need a little time to go back to the drawing board,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said late Saturday. “A lot of us were caught off guard by how the last 24 hours went.” [Continue reading…]