As the GOP’s legislative influence gets a boost from its recent victory in House midterm elections, will the Biden open checkbook for Ukraine be a casualty? A Republican majority will no doubt bring changes, and substantive ones, as Liberty Nation’s Jeff Charles explained in his article, “Revenge of the House Republicans.” But what does it bode for the fate of Ukraine? Up to this point, the GOP minority in the House of Representatives has been relatively quiet. Concerns have been voiced around the edges, but in the wake of the White House’s and Pentagon’s momentum to support Ukraine for as long as it takes, major objections have not surfaced.
This could all change. There are hawkish legislators on the right who have been enthusiastic about going along with the Biden agenda in backstopping President Volodymyr Zelensky’s stand against the brutalization of Ukrainians by Russian forces. Other views from fiscal conservatives on the right side of the aisle indicate more moderate sentiments. Realizing that the drunken-sailor approach to spending for Ukraine has its limits, some Republicans are troubled by the rising cost and the precipitous depletion of US war supplies.
“Senator James Risch (R-ID) and Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX), the top Republicans in the foreign affairs committees in each chamber, have been leading voices in support of arming Ukraine, often pushing for Biden to do more,” Colin Meyn claims in an article for The Hill. There is more unease, particularly among fiscal conservatives, regarding what they see as a paucity of oversight. The question to be answered by whomever holds the purse strings is how does the government ensure US taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely on precisely what is needed to thwart Russia’s designs in Ukraine?
The idea of “spending wisely” may be at odds with Pentagon assertions that the US will support Ukraine for “as long as it takes” to win. These are the words that underpin never-ending wars. Unfortunately, few of those who so boldly make that claim hold a common view of what constitutes winning. For example, at one point, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said winning, for the Kyiv government, was the return to the pre-April 2014 borders. Such an outcome is probably not realistic in the near term. However, with the ambiguity attending “as long as it takes,” the door is open for a wide and expanding view of what the statement means.
What a Republican Majority Might Do
A Republican majority in the House has a duty to be a good steward of American taxpayers’ money – and it could achieve this if it approaches Ukraine support with these three legislative actions in mind:
- Write into legislation the establishment of a Special Inspector General for Ukraine Support. Where military assistance programs appear open-ended, having an inspector general in-country will help reduce the potential for fraud, waste, and abuse.
- Direct the Pentagon to establish specific criteria and strategic plan necessary to achieve a satisfactory and clearly defined end state in Ukraine – no more “as long as it takes.”
- Direct the Pentagon to itemize military equipment based on a Department of Defense assessment of how the equipment will address specific battlefield needs – helping to prevent providing “nice-to-have” military equipment with marginal utility for the Ukraine battlefield.
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the current House minority leader destined, it seems, for the speakership in January, has been clear that the days of the “blank check” for the Kyiv government are over. Others are more adamant. “We should immediately stop payments to Ukraine and begin a thorough audit of the $60 billion that Joe Biden and Congress have already sent there,” Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) Tweeted. Massie’s point of view is unlikely to prevail, but Congress needs to exert greater fiscal control over the billions flowing to Ukraine. However, the White House does not seem to be worried. “The president at a post-election press conference Wednesday brushed off concerns that Republicans, who are on track to take control of the House, will pull the plug,” Defense News reported.
We’ve seen what happens when there are no fiscal controls on White House foreign aid spending. Americans surely do not want the Kyiv government to be another Afghanistan. Taxpayers deserve an accounting of where their dollars are going, even for a good cause.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.
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