Congress rallies to aid Ukraine; end-state murky for some lawmakers

The limits of U.S. assist for Ukraine have gone largely untested in Washington as President Biden defers to Kyiv to outline the battle’s end-state.

The House this week handed a recent $40 billion navy and financial support package deal for Ukraine, including $7 billion to the White House’s prime line request. The new package deal brings complete U.S. assist for the battle to just about $54 billion as soon as authorized by the Senate.

But as lawmakers scramble to shuttle the much-needed support out the door, a small group of lawmakers is asking how the battle ends and the way a lot it would value. 

“I think it’s an evolving mission already,” mentioned Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican. “Before, I think we were trying to keep the Ukrainians from being defeated. Now, their foreign minister said in the last day or two, that the goal is removing the Russians from every aspect of the country, including Crimea.”

“You could see how with different goals it could be a long-drawn-out war,” he mentioned. “It might ultimately be. You could see it being akin to the 20-year war in Afghanistan.”

President Biden has vowed to again Kyiv all the best way whereas pledging that Ukraine alone will outline its personal victory. And the administration is banking on unwavering assist for the battle in Congress to maintain the help flowing. 

“We believe Ukraine should define what victory means and our policy is trying to ensure Ukraine’s success,” Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried instructed members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday.

“We are committed to supporting Ukraine so that it can prevail in this conflict,” she mentioned. “The tremendous bipartisan support we have in Congress for the assistance we’ve been giving, whether that’s security assistance, economic assistance, humanitarian assistance, puts us in an extremely strong position to stay the course … as it looks like this war, quite tragically, may grind on for still some time to come.”

Ukrainian officers have set a excessive bar in latest public statements, calling for the entire expulsion of Russian troops from their territory, together with within the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014, and the Donbas area, which has remained at a stalemate for the reason that identical interval.

Rep. Adam Smith, Washington Democrat and chair of the House Armed Services Committee, echoed the administration’s standpoint on the U.S. not getting in the best way of Ukraine’s negotiations, however mentioned he trusts that the administration is partaking with Ukraine to outline a transparent end-state.

“We’re not negotiating for Ukraine,” he mentioned. “They’re going to have to decide.”

“Now on a diplomatic level, not in a public manner, we should be having conversations about what the end-state looks like,” he mentioned. “And I trust that our diplomats are doing this.” 

While nearly all of lawmakers stay steadfast of their assist for Ukraine – the most recent support package deal garnered unanimous assist from House Democrats and most Republicans — fissures have grown wider throughout the GOP over funding the battle because it drags on.

In a speech on the House Floor Wednesday, Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, blasted his colleagues for spending billions extra on the battle in Ukraine than Congress spends on the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol — a standard chorus from some Republicans since tensions started to extend on Ukraine’s border over the winter.

He additionally lamented Congress’ “dangerous bipartisan consensus that is walking us into war with Russia.”

Mr. Gaetz was one in every of 57 Republicans to vote towards the most recent support package deal.

Rep. Chip Roy, Texas Republican, was one other dissenter.

“The idea that we’re going to say ‘here’s $40 billion,’ then you go see the parameters, that’s a blank check,” he mentioned. “I mean, it’s just open-ended.”

Mr. Paul blocked the Senate’s try to fast-track the help on Thursday over his push to incorporate language within the invoice that might create a particular inspector common to supervise the disbursal of support to Ukraine.

During his flooring speech on the measure, he raised additional considerations about U.S. spending for the battle amid financial uncertainty at house.

“My oath of office is to the U.S. Constitution, not any foreign nation … We cannot save Ukraine by dooming the U.S. economy,” Mr. Paul mentioned. “It isn’t that we always have to be the Uncle Sam, the policeman that saves the world, particularly when it’s on borrowed money.”

Mr. Smith mentioned the dissent over the help package deal is a mirrored image of a rising rift within the Republican Party however mentioned it was notable that way more Republicans supported the package deal than didn’t.

Still, Mr. Smith acknowledged that the U.S.’s capability to assist Ukraine “is not limitless.” And whereas he doesn’t count on one other request for support, he mentioned it isn’t utterly out of the query.

“That’s a really hard question to answer,” he mentioned. “Forty billion dollars is a lot of money. I don’t anticipate another ask, but it wouldn’t shock me if it happened.”

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