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Politico

GOP downplays its Trump wing on the world stage


The highest Republican on the Senate International Relations Committee, who co-led the congressional delegation to the convention, downplayed the affect of neo-isolationists inside his celebration and famous that the Hill’s strongest GOP lawmakers firmly help further help.

“There are some very loud voices over there,” Idaho Sen. Jim Risch mentioned in an interview, referring to conservatives who oppose extra help for Kyiv. “It doesn’t fear me as a lot as you would like it wasn’t there … If we had been on the opposite aspect of this, they’d be pounding the desk saying, ‘Ship more cash to Ukraine.’”

The unified show of help for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Halifax got here as GOP leaders — particularly within the Home, the place the celebration is about to take the bulk — really feel heightened stress from their proper flank to chop off further funding for Ukraine. Whereas help for the allied nation’s protection in opposition to Moscow stays overwhelmingly bipartisan on Capitol Hill, current polling information has highlighted some GOP voters shifting towards a extra Trump-centric route, voicing resistance to additional help.

Lots of Trump’s greatest congressional allies are echoing that shift whereas maintaining a detailed eye on how the previous president views the newest Biden White Home’s request, given his earlier opposition to Ukraine help packages.

“Is Ukraine now the 51st state of america of America? And what place does Zelenskyy have in our authorities?” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) requested sarcastically at a information convention the day earlier than the Halifax convention started.

Far-right Republicans like Greene aren’t the one rank-and-file members inflicting complications for GOP leaders. Others are pushing for expanded oversight of the U.S. funding as a option to straddle each side of the Ukraine-aid debate, whereas some need to reduce the non-military parts of U.S. help for Ukraine. And with Republicans anticipated to carry solely a single-digit majority within the decrease chamber come January, these voices inside the celebration may quickly have actual leverage regardless of the supermajorities in each chambers that stay supportive of army and financial help.

Given the uncertainty over how a Home GOP majority would deal with future funding, many Democrats and Republicans need to considerably enhance the Biden administration’s $38 billion request, hoping to approve it earlier than the brand new Congress is sworn in.

“[Ukraine has] the chance throughout the winter to proceed to make progress, to not let Russia re-supply, re-equip and re-arm and put together for a spring offensive. They’ll solely do this with army help from the West,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) mentioned in an interview right here. “I feel we must always present as sturdy a supplemental package deal as we probably can, to take away doubt about whether or not that may occur within the subsequent Congress.”

The Ukrainian authorities was already anticipating a bigger sum — as a lot as $60 billion, in keeping with two individuals aware of the matter. Democrats, who management each chambers of Congress till Jan. 3, will particularly look to hike the White Home’s request for $500 million in humanitarian help, which Coons described as “gravely inadequate.”

Within the meantime, retiring Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) has dedicated to together with a big Ukraine help package deal in a year-end spending invoice. Republican leaders have pointed to Ukraine’s current victories on the battlefield as a motive to double down on help packages, not pull again.

“I do know lots of people say, ‘Nicely, we’re getting bored with serving to the Ukrainians.’ They’re combating for freedom. I need to assist them,” Shelby mentioned in an interview earlier than the Senate’s Thanksgiving recess, emphasizing that appropriators had but to clinch an settlement on precise spending figures.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior International Relations Committee member, mentioned he was involved that Republicans may not again a rise to the package deal’s financial and humanitarian help.

“We’ve seen this film earlier than,” Cardin mentioned.

For now, Republican leaders in each chambers are attempting to maintain the Trump-aligned bloc at bay by promising further scrutiny of U.S. taxpayer {dollars} heading abroad, in addition to seeking to persuade different NATO members to step up with further help for Ukraine.

Lots of these oversight and accountability mechanisms exist already inside congressional committees, although, and GOP leaders have but to put out a particular plan. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), who attended the convention, mentioned he has seen the Biden administration’s supply of weapons to Ukraine develop into “extra well timed,” although further “due diligence” is critical.

The Halifax discussion board featured an array of legislative and army leaders who sought to depart these home political challenges on the water’s edge. In a well-received handle, Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin made the case that pushing again in opposition to Russia’s expansionism is about far more than simply defending Ukraine’s territory, as different adversaries like China ponder related strikes to upend the worldwide order. After assembly with Austin, the nine-member congressional delegation right here had the identical message.

“Make no mistake,” added Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who co-led the delegation. “Everyone seems to be watching the result.”

Paul McLeary contributed to this report.

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