Sen. Mike Lee, 28 other GOP lawmakers sign letter opposing funds for Ukraine without accountability
Lee says the White House hasn’t provided ‘clear goals and a defined mission’ on Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was in Washington, D.C., Thursday with the goal of asking for additional support for his war-torn country. But several Republican lawmakers say they oppose providing the billions of additional dollars asked for by the Biden administration without accountability.
In a letter sent to Shalanda Young, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, congressional Republicans are vowing to oppose President Joe Biden’s request for $24 billion in military, economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine unless certain questions can be answered.
The letter, uploaded by The Wall Street Journal, was led by Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, and Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas. It lists five other senators — including Sen. Mike Lee of Utah — and 22 other representatives as the signatories.
What Sen. Lee thinks about sending billions more in aid to Ukraine
Lee’s communications director Billy Gribbin sent the Deseret News a statement clarifying the senator’s position on funding for Ukraine.
“Senator Lee has challenged the White House to provide clear goals and a defined mission for the additional 100 billion dollars that President Biden wants to take from the American people and send to Ukraine,” said Gribbin, referring to the number Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said it would cost the U.S. in the next 14 months.
He said Lee doesn’t consider the “proxy war to be in America’s best interests,” which is why he is opposed to simply authorizing more funding.
“The Cold War is over, the USSR no longer exists, and the United States has finally extracted itself from 20 years of tragic conflict in the Middle East,” Gribbin said. “Ronald Reagan would be horrified, but not surprised, that the federal government is acting as a terrible steward of American tax dollars while resuming the nuclear brinksmanship which he worked so hard to end with the defeat of communism.”
29 GOP lawmakers write letter of opposition
The letter signed by Lee said that the U.S. has appropriated $114 billion in supplemental funding for Ukraine and other impacted countries since the war started in 2022, adding that the dollar figure isn’t the entire amount.
Congress is “unaware of how much the United States has spent to date in total on this conflict, information which is necessary for Congress to prudently exercise its appropriations power,” the letter added.
It stated that President Biden has expressed an “open-ended commitment” to support Ukraine, but neither the public nor Congress knows the U.S.’ strategy in this war or the end goal.
“The American people deserve to know what their money has gone to,” the letter said, listing out questions, including:
- How is the counteroffensive going?
- Are the Ukrainians any closer to victory than they were 6 months ago?
- What is our strategy, and what is the president’s exit plan?
Zelenskyy visits amid crucial spending bill negotiations
This push from the Republican lawmakers comes the same day Zelenskyy made his second trip to Washington, D.C., since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. He will meet Biden at the White House and then head over to Capitol Hill to meet lawmakers.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he turned down Zelenskyy’s request to address a joint session of Congress, especially since he already gave an address last year. Instead, McCarthy said he wants “to sit down and walk through the questions. What is the plan for victory, where are we currently on the field, the accountability issues,” according to NBC News.
The $24 billion requested by Biden was initially attached to the spending bills that lawmakers are currently negotiating. Congress has less than 10 days until the government runs out of funding; lawmakers have to either approve a dozen spending bills or push forward a stopgap bill to avoid a government shutdown.
But the stopgap bill that the Republican Conference in the House proposed does not include the $24 billion that the president requested.
A minority of lawmakers block aid to Ukraine
Even though a majority of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle support sending aid, the group of GOP lawmakers who oppose the funding can put up roadblocks.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who is a signatory on the letter, wrote an opinion piece for The American Conservative that dove into why “the federal government should not be held hostage for Ukraine funding.”
“We have no extra money to send to Ukraine,” he wrote. “Our deficit this year will exceed $1.5 trillion. Borrowing money from China to send to Ukraine makes no sense.”
Paul noted a recent CNN poll found 55% of voters say Congress shouldn’t authorize more funding directed to Kyiv, compared to 45% who say lawmakers should authorize funding.
“We cannot keep putting the needs of other countries above our own. We cannot save Ukraine by dooming the American economy. And we certainly cannot save Ukraine by fighting a war with Russia,” Paul said.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., posted on X, a platform formerly known as Twitter, saying he was proud to welcome the Ukrainian president and “hear firsthand about the status of Ukraine’s counteroffensive.”
“American support for Ukraine is not charity. It’s in our own direct interests — not least because degrading Russia helps to deter China,” he said.
Contributing: Suzanne Bates