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Politico: McConnell lobbies in support of Ukraine aid amid Republican Party rift

by Martin Fornusek October 30, 2023 2:20 PM 2 min read
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters after a closed-door lunch meeting with Senate Republicans at the U.S. Capitol Oct. 24, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, representing the Republican Party, is going "all out" in support of Kyiv despite the opposition by House Speaker Mike Johnson and other Ukraine-skeptic members of the party, Politico reported on Oct. 30.

Abandoning his usual cautious, consensus-building approach, McConnell is lobbying extensively to muster Congress's support for keeping the $61 billion for Ukraine as part of the White House's $105 billion funding package.

President Joe Biden's Administration hopes that by tying together support for Ukraine with money for Israel and other priorities, it will have more chances of winning the approval of Congress.

This plan faces stiff opposition from hard-line Republican lawmakers close to ex-President Donald Trump. Mike Johnson, the recently-appointed House Speaker and a loyal Trump supporter, said that he would support funding for Israel but, for the moment, not for Ukraine.

"There are lots of things going on around the world that we have to address, and we will," Johnson said.

"But right now, what's happening in Israel takes the immediate attention, and I think we've got to separate that and get it through."

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The stance on Ukraine has become a point of contention within the GOP as McConnell seeks to sway undecided Republican senators to his side.

The congressional veteran is to make an appearance alongside Ukraine's Ambassador to Ukraine Oksana Markarova at the University of Louisville on Oct. 30. He has also made both public and private statements in support of the broader funding package over the past week.

Some of McConnell's party colleagues, however, doubt that his efforts will bring fruit.

"There are plenty of people, particularly in the House, that are not going to agree with him, and I don't think it has a chance to pass in the House. There's some real resistance here as well," Republican Senator Ron Johnson told Politico.

"I just don't think it's gonna succeed," he said.

The news outlet noted that all potential successors to McConnell back further funding for Ukraine but are more skeptical about tying it to the broader package.

The White House needs to win Congress's support in what could be, according to Politico, the last congressional battle on Ukraine aid before the 2024 presidential election.

Polls indicate that Donald Trump, who has in the past criticized the level of support Washington throws behind Kyiv, is most likely to win the Republican nomination and challenge Biden.

Politico: White House sells Ukraine aid as economic boon at home
The White House reportedly asked Ukraine-sympathetic Congress members from both parties to present military support for Kyiv as a way to bring new jobs to Americans, the news outlet said, citing undisclosed presidential aides and lawmakers.

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