Was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) caught up in the spending bill revelry of the moment, claiming funding support for Ukraine was Republicans’ number one priority? Americans have a history of supporting the underdog. Clearly, the Kyiv government is the underdog in its struggle against the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by the Russian bear. Despite the miraculously successful resistance of the Ukrainian armed forces and civilians, Ukraine needs America’s and its NATO allies’ help to keep up the fight. But where does that help rank among the myriad US national funding requirements?
“Providing assistance for Ukrainians to defeat the Russians that’s the number one priority of the United States right now, according to most Republicans. That’s sort of how we see the challenges confronting the country at the moment,” McConnell explained at a press conference. But funding more weapons and aid for Ukraine is not America’s “number one priority,” even if the senator thinks so.
Ukraine Funding in Omnibus Spending
The Senate’s lead Republican made the comments supporting the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package making its way through the congressional budgeting process. The aggregated spending bill looks like the vehicle for increasing support for Ukraine with an additional $45 billion. “The final amount, included in the year-end, must-pass omnibus bill, means Ukraine will get $8 billion more than the $37 billion President Biden asked Congress for last month,” Ellen Mitchell reported in The Hill. Since Congress didn’t do its job on time getting appropriations bills passed, the catch-all omnibus appropriation is the fallback option to keep from a government shutdown.
Justifying his comments, the senator explained in a Senate floor speech, “President Zelensky is an inspiring leader, but the most basic reasons for continuing to help Ukraine degrade and defeat the Russian invaders are cold hard practical American interests.” McConnell believes defeating the Russians will help prevent “security crises” in the future. But Americans face a security crisis right now. To put McConnell’s comments on American interests in perspective, Russia invaded Ukraine with around 150,000 soldiers in February 2022.
A little closer to home, there is a menace Senator McConnell may have missed. According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, 5.5 million illegal aliens have invaded the US since President Biden took office. That’s more invaders on US soil than the combined armies of China (2,035,000), Russia (900,000), Iran (523,000), and North Korea (1,280,000), according to the World Atlas numbers reported in the “29 Largest Armies in the World.” Dealing with the US border crisis is more likely to be at the top of the spending priority list for US taxpayers in border states watching the hordes of illegal aliens streaming into the US.
Minority Leader’s Priority for Ukraine Not Entirely Popular
McConnell’s statement garnered almost instantaneous outrage from conservative legislators and Republican mainstays who don’t share the senator’s hyperbolic view of America’s challenges. To suggest for Republicans specifically and Americans generally, funding Ukraine’s battle, albeit valiant, against the Kremlin’s brutal aggression is the top spending priority, considering real threats faced daily from China, North Korea, Iran, or Russia is just nonsense. Others were more strident and personal in criticizing the minority leader. In The Federalist, Molly Hemingway wrote in her article “GOP Can’t Be Successful Until Mitch McConnell Is Gone”:
“The comment about Republican priorities is so false as to be completely delusional. Among the many concerns Republican voters have with Washington, DC, a failure to give even more money to Ukraine simply does not rank…Many Republican voters support helping Ukraine fight Russia’s unjust invasion, but it is absolutely nowhere near their top issue, contrary to McConnell’s false claim.”
Stopping Russian aggression in Ukraine is a seminal US national security pursuit. But not all national security interests are equal. Based on the Biden administration’s National Security Strategy defeating the Kremlin in Ukraine is a national security imperative but one of several and not the top priority. Ukraine’s brave people can find solace in America’s willingness to provide unprecedented support, exceeding $100 billion with the passage of the current omnibus spending bill. But America has other spending priorities, as well, which impact its citizens where they live.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.
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