Ahead of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to Washington, D.C., a group of 29 Republican lawmakers has vowed to oppose further funding for Ukraine.
In a scathing letter to the White House, six senators and 23 House members said they reject President Biden’s request for $24 billion in additional security, economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The lawmakers railed against the Biden administration for a lack of clarity over how the more than $100 billion in funding Congress has already approved has been spent. And they said Biden’s demand for an increase in defense spending on the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative 15 times greater than what Congress authorized “makes a mockery” of the legislative process.
“The vast majority of Congress remains 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 states. “It is difficult to envision a benign explanation for this lack of clarity.”
The letter was spearheaded by Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, and Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas. It was addressed to Shalanda Young, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.
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Though these lawmakers are a small minority of Congress – which has supported Biden’s multiple requests for Ukraine funding with bipartisan majorities – there are enough dissenters to create procedural obstacles to further aid packages in the Senate.
Zelenskyy is scheduled to meet with Biden and lawmakers from both parties at the Capitol on Thursday after speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York earlier this week. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters he expects Zelenskyy to discuss Ukraine’s plan for victory, where things stand on the battlefield and take questions to address accountability concerns from lawmakers.
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The visit comes as Congress faces a Sept. 30 deadline to avoid a government shutdown. Hard line conservatives have pressured McCarthy to put forward a government funding bill that reduces spending to pre-COVID pandemic levels. A proposal the speaker released Wednesday slashes spending by $130 billion to $1.471 trillion, without cuts to defense, the Department of Homeland Security or Veterans Affairs.
It would also include House Republicans’ border security bill minus its eVerify provisions and commit to establishing a commission to study the national debt crisis. In addition, it would commit the House to capping its 12 appropriations bills at $1.526 trillion total.
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One of the letter’s signatories, House Small Business Committee Chairman Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, told Fox News Digital that Congress should not consider additional funding for Ukraine while these domestic issues remain unresolved.
“In the midst of a historic border crisis and looming government shutdown, the United States is in no position to fund the endless war in Ukraine,” Williams said.
“Biden has sent billions of taxpayer dollars overseas, yet we still have no idea what that funding is actually being used for,” Williams said. “It is past time to rein in spending and put the safety and well-being of America first. I am firm that any funding resolutions must not include any additional taxpayer dollars for the war in Ukraine.”
Zelenskyy is expected to request additional funding from Congress for his war effort against Russia, but the letter’s signatories say Ukraine needs to explain how the war will end before Congress funds the effort.
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“Your request cites President Biden’s pledge that ‘we will stand with Ukraine as it defends its sovereignty for as long as it takes’… These statements imply an open-ended commitment to supporting the war in Ukraine of an indeterminate nature, based on a strategy that is unclear, to achieve a goal yet to be articulated to the public or the Congress,” the Republicans wrote to Young.
“The American people deserve to know what their money has gone to,” the letter continues. “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? What does the administration define as victory in Ukraine? What assistance has the United States provided Ukraine under Title 10? It would be an absurd abdication of congressional responsibility to grant this request without knowing the answers to these questions.”
A Fox News survey in August found that 36% of registered voters think the U.S. should be doing less when it comes to helping Ukraine. Even so, a majority said the U.S. level of support is either about right (40%) or should be greater (21%).
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who supports additional funding for Ukraine, told The Wall Street Journal he and other pro-Ukraine lawmakers aren’t worried about the dissenters holding up additional aid.
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“Blumenthal said his fear is that the aid will get caught up in the dysfunction that is plaguing the House – where insurgent Republicans have blocked multiple procedural votes, preventing Hosue Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R, Calif.) from bringing even conservative spending bills to the floor unless he gives in to a wide-ranging list of demands,” the Journal reported.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has meanwhile called for the Senate to pass both additional funding for Ukraine and a disaster relief package by September’s end.
Fox News’ Victoria Balara and Brianna O’Neil contributed to this report.