A view of damage of the buildings as Russia-Ukraine war continues in Mariupol, Ukraine on September 8, 2022.

A view of damage of the buildings as Russia-Ukraine war continues in Mariupol, Ukraine on September 8, 2022. Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Conservative Groups Urging Lawmakers To Vote ‘No’ On More Ukraine Aid

“This new package will prolong a fight that lacks an American dog, allowing regional allies to shirk their security responsibilities yet again,” one former Trump official said.

Conservative groups are lobbying members of Congress to vote against the White House’s request for additional money for Ukraine, arguing that the administration is asking for a blank check with no long-term plan to end the war.

The White House announced Friday that it would request an additional $13.7 billion to help Ukraine between October and December, including $11.7 for security and economic assistance and $2 billion to reduce energy costs that have increased during the war. Congress has already approved two supplemental funding packages, for $13.6 billion in March and $40 billion in May. 

Conservative groups, including Heritage Action and Concerned Veterans for America, quickly urged lawmakers to reject the plea for additional aid.

“These funding requests ignore the concerns of the American people, and President Biden refuses to answer basic questions regarding fiscal responsibility and appropriateness of his funding requests,” Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action, said in a statement. “U.S. support for Ukraine deserves an open and honest debate without liberal congressional leadership using funding for the U.S. government as a vehicle for Washington’s priorities. 

Others, including Russ Vought, president of the Center for Renewing America and former director of the Office of Management and Budget, also slammed the request for more aid. 

“The American people are tired of the neoconservative policy consensus that demands billions of their tax dollars be spent to defend the integrity of Ukraine’s border when resources and stewardship cannot be found to address our own,” Vought said. “This new package will prolong a fight that lacks an American dog, allowing regional allies to shirk their security responsibilities yet again.”

After the White House announcement, some right-leaning media organizations published headlines criticizing Republicans who support Ukraine funding, saying that they are ignoring domestic problems, including security at the border with Mexico. An article in The Federalist on Thursday slammed “McConnell and his fellow swamp creatures” for refusing to “put America’s security interests ahead of Ukraine’s.” Fox News’ Tucker Carlson has not yet weighed in on the latest ask, but said in May that “leaders believe protecting Ukraine is more important than protecting you.” 

Some Republicans have already vowed not to support the latest request for aid. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, tweeted that Ukraine should get “$0.00” while America’s southern border is not secure, especially without a greater financial commitment from NATO and an audit of where the funding is actually going. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., also criticized the Democrats proposed “spending spree” for Ukraine aid, quipping that “we are the USA, not the US-ATM.” 

Davidson and Boebert were among the 57 House Republicans who voted against the $40 billion supplemental bill in May. Eleven Republicans voted against the measure in the Senate.

However, stories in conservative media coupled with right-leaning groups lobbying lawmakers to vote against the additional funds  are likely to increase the number of Republicans who oppose this request compared to previous supplementals, said Dan Caldwell, vice president of foreign policy at Stand Together, a nonprofit within the Koch network.

“It creates more political pressure on Republicans to vote no,” he said. “My bet right now is that all that coming together is going to lead to an increase in the numbers of Republicans opposing aid if it’s a standalone vote.”

It may not just be Republicans questioning the long-term strategy of the Biden administration. Marcus Stanley, advocacy director at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, predicted that progressive Democrats who have long pushed back against expensive endless wars may start questioning how the war in Ukraine ends, and pushing the White House to incorporate more diplomacy and negotiation into its strategy for Ukraine, though he noted that they will be less likely to break with the president and oppose the aid than their Republican counterparts.

“I think that people are going to be raising their voice in a much more concerted manner about what’s the exit strategy here? How does this end?” Stanley said. “That will, I think, lay the groundwork for thinking about what the long-term strategy is here, and whether there are any limits to pouring money into an endless war.”

It’s not clear how long the $13.7 billion would last, if it’s approved. Congress authorized $40 billion on May 21, and the White House said Sept. 2 that three-quarters of that money had been committed. If the administration maintains that rate of expenditure, the money could last less than two months, meaning Congress could be considering another supplemental in the lame duck session after the election. 

Many Democrats, senior military leaders, and Republicans with more traditional neoconservative views say it’s critical to keep supporting Ukraine—arguing that the fight is about the battle for democracy, and warning that Russian leader Vladimir Putin won’t stop with just Ukraine if he successfully takes the country. 

“There must be a sustained political will because this is not just an issue of Ukraine and Russia. This is an issue of freedom and democratic values across the globe,” Sen. Jack Reed, R-R.I., the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Wednesday at an event hosted by Defense News. “This is a fundamental battle between Putin, an autocrat, and the free world and we have to stay in this fight.”

Army chief Gen. James McConville also said Monday that it’s in the global interest to continue supporting Ukraine as it attempts to drive Russia out of its territory. 

“It’s certainly in all of our interests…to bring this unprovoked invasion to some type of solution,” McConville said at the Defense One State of Defense event. “I think most people recognize that.” 

Most people do want to keep supporting Ukraine, according to multiple polls. Seven in 10 Americans want to send more weapons and military supplies to the troops fighting against Russia, according to a July poll by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. In a global poll of people in 22 countries released Wednesday by the Open Societies Foundation, more than 60 percent agreed that “this is a confrontation between democracy and authoritarianism.”