President Joe Biden signed a $40 billion aid package to Ukraine over a week ago, bringing total taxpayer funding for the war-torn nation to roughly $54 billion with Republican support — but where exactly these additional funds are coming from remains a mystery.
The bill, which offers $7 billion more than the president requested, passed the House with 149 Republicans voting in favor, and another 25 Republicans in the Senate securing its passage a week later. Only 57 Republicans in the House and 11 Republicans in the Senate voted in opposition.
GOP Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley condemned the package as a colossal donation made against “American interests.”
“It neglects priorities at home (the border), allows Europe to freeload, short changes critical interests abroad and comes w/ no meaningful oversight,” Hawley tweeted ahead of the Senate vote. He also published an op-ed critical of a neocon resurgence within the Republican Party last Tuesday.
Republicans outside congressional leadership who championed the bill include Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, and Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw.
Days after the vote in the lower chamber, Crenshaw went on Fox News to defend his support for the billions sent to Ukraine, calling it a vehicle to pivot our foreign policy focus from Russia to China.
“This is an investment in the severe degradation of our second biggest adversary, the Russian military,” Crenshaw said. “That allows us to do something. That allows us to focus on our actual biggest adversary, which is China.”
Graham made a similar case on the same network, claiming the fate of Taiwan depends on the fate of the Ukrainians.
“China is just waiting to see what to do with Taiwan. All the chips in the world for our high-tech industry come from Taiwan. So, there’s a lot at stake here,” Graham said, conceding that more federal attention ought to be paid to domestic issues. “We should have rational border policies. We don’t.”
Christian Whiton, a former senior adviser in the State Department under Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump who now serves as a senior fellow for the Center for National Interest, told The Federalist that if lawmakers were serious about a pivot to China, they would be already pivoting to China, not Ukraine.
“If you want to focus on Asia, you focus on Asia. This will get us deeper in the issues of Europe,” Whiton said of the billions in taxpayer dollars being shipped off to Ukraine. “We are actually increasing the moral hazard where we let Europe off the hook where we’re paying for its security. None of that is going to make it easier to shift to Asia.”
Lawmakers can’t give a straight answer on where exactly Congress’s appropriated funds for Ukraine will ultimately come from. When asked whether they would support raising taxes to pay for the $54 billion to Ukraine, each of the three — Crenshaw, Graham, and Ernst — offered different answers. Crenshaw’s office offered no response, while Ernst’s spokeswoman responded with a simple “no.”
Speaking in mid-May, Graham’s communications director Kevin Bishop told The Federalist the issue hadn’t yet been discussed.
“Graham has expressed support, including speaking on the floor yesterday, about seizing Russian oligarch assets to help with the costs associated with Ukraine,” Bishop said.
Whiton warned of “finite defense budgets” as tax dollars become scarcer amid recession and fiscal crises brought by unrestrained Washington spending.
“If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority,” Whiton said. “Frankly when it comes to spending, when it comes to our attention span our focus needs to be on China now, not in some distant future.”