Congress Headed For Showdown Over Ukraine, Israel Funds As Massie And Greene Say 'NO' To All

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Oct 30, 2023 - 05:00 PM

House Republican opposition to Ukraine funding - a large part of why Kevin McCarthy was ousted by the Freedom Caucus - is solidifying under newly crowned Speaker Mike Johnson, who hand-delivered a report to President Biden with a list of demands.

In particular, the list - written by Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA), informs Biden that Congress won't authorize any additional funds for Ukraine unless the administration answers a dozen questions about the path forward. Chief among them - how Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy plan to win the war against Russia, and how long it might take.

"Failure to ask these questions, and a continued willingness by Congress to enable this carte blanche mentality to date, is, in my opinion, a dereliction of duty and a recipe for disaster that will enable a Ukrainian defeat and enhance Chinese aggression," said Garcia.

Johnson, meanwhile, has made clear that House Republicans won't bundle Ukraine aid and money for Israel's conflict with Hamas, as Biden wants.

On Sunday, Johnson told "Sunday Morning Futures" that Israel aid must be separated because it's a more "pressing and urgent need" that the House will act on this week.

"There are lots of things going on around the world that we have to address, and we will," he said, adding "But now what’s happening in Israel takes the immediate attention, and we’ve got to separate that and get it through."

What about no on Israel too?

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) on Sunday posted on X that she won't support any more foreign aid, including support to Israel, because of the national debt.

"I will be voting NO on all funding packages for the Ukraine war (as I have from the beginning) and now the Israel war," she wrote. "We have had over 10 MILLION people illegally cross our border since Biden took office and we are over $33 TRILLION dollars in debt with many major problems afflicting Americans."

She also responded to a tweet by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), who raised the same point, saying "we simply can't afford it."

Johnson and McConnell headed for showdown?

With House Republicans tepid on Ukraine funds, Johnson is heading into a showdown with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) - who says he wants to keep Ukraine aid and Israel aid tied together because he sees them as part of a larger global threat.

Johnson says he wants to “bifurcate” the issues of Ukraine and Israel, and he has signaled early support for a stopgap funding bill that would include steep cuts to nondefense spending, which Democrats say would have no chance of passing the Senate. 

Beyond the next three weeks, McConnell wants to pass the regular appropriations bills before Christmas in order to boost defense spending, while Johnson has floated the idea of freezing federal funding with a stopgap measure lasting until January or April.  

Johnson has also proposed offsetting $14 billion in aid to Israel with other spending cuts, an idea that will be controversial with Senate Republicans and Democrats alike. -The Hill

That said, Senate Republicans are growing weary of the blank check approach as well.

"We need to start breaking the mold around here. This isn’t working. We’re $33.5 trillion in debt. The old way of doing business has failed, is failing. We need to approach things differently. From my standpoint, within [the] Republican conference we need a different form of governance," said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).

McConnell and Johnson also have vastly different views on abortion - with McConnell making clear that the decision should be left to the states, while Johnson - who is very religious, sees it as a national issue. Earlier this year, Johnson co-sponsored a bill declaring the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution applies to unborn children. He also introduced a bill in February to make it a crime to transport minors across state lines for an abortion without first satisfying parental involvement laws in the minor's state of residence.

"Paradoxically, McConnell finds it much easier to talk to [Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)] than his Republican counterpart in the House," said Ross K. Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University who has held several Senate fellowships.  

Yet according to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), "What Biden and Schumer are doing, which is holding Israel aid hostage in order to pass all of their other partisan priorities, is profoundly cynical."