Ukraine aid moves ahead: The Senate advanced a massive Ukraine ad bill by an 81-11 vote, putting it on track to clear the chamber later this week. The “no” votes came from fiscal conservatives who criticized the package as bloated and said its priorities were misplaced.
Monday’s vote, which came after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blocked swift consideration of the measure last week, showed that there’s a small but powerful contingent within the GOP that’s taking on the establishment wing of the party when it comes to sending American tax dollars to help Ukraine combat Russia’s brutal invasion.
The intra-GOP pushback: Monday’s vote comes a week after 57 House Republicans opposed the Ukraine measure, and after a group of GOP leaders led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) traveled to Ukraine over the weekend to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. McConnell has taken criticism from Senate GOP candidates, as well as some sitting Republican lawmakers, for his aggressive efforts to send the Ukraine bill to Joe Biden’s desk.
“I will vote against policies I like if it’s going to continue us on the same pathway that’s taken us from $18 trillion [in debt] when I got here to $30 trillion,” Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said in a brief interview. “They’re going to borrow all the money to do it.”
Republican hawks said that while the bill isn’t perfect, it’s an investment in degrading Russia’s capabilities over the long-term. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) put it this way: “If there’s a gap [in funding], the Russians could have a breakthrough. So it’s a critical time. A Putin victory is against our national security interests.”
Of note: Among potential 2024 presidential contenders, the vote was split. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) voted against it, while Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) supported it.