The two Republicans representing Indiana in the U.S. Senate are taking starkly different positions on whether and how the United States should aid two American allies as they respond to deadly and devastating attacks by hostile neighbors.
U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., favors keeping the United States in its post-World War II role as the primary maintainer of the international order by providing continuing military and financial support to Ukraine as it repels an unlawful Russian invasion, and to Israel as it works to eliminate Hamas terrorists from Gaza.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., has indicated he’s interested in providing limited financial assistance solely to Israel, and then only if it’s paired with unrelated federal spending cuts that, ironically, would increase the federal budget deficit that Braun claims is the basis for his parsimony.
Those seemingly incompatible positions, along with the varying opinions of their colleagues in the Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House, must somehow be reconciled in the weeks ahead if Congress is going to advance a timely foreign aid package to Democratic President Joe Biden to be signed into law.
Young told participants attending a U.S. Global Leadership Coalition luncheon Monday in Indianapolis that the stakes couldn’t be higher: “This is such a dangerous time. This is the most dangerous time in my lifetime from a geopolitical standpoint.”
The senator said the conflicts in Ukraine and Israel, along with the ongoing potential for Chinese aggression toward Taiwan and its other neighbors in southeast Asia, all are connected through a Russia-China-Iran commitment to autocracy over democracy.
“There is coordination and collaboration and mutual support of activities so that autocrats can stay in power. That’s it. It’s about staying in power. That is their end-game: To elevate and venerate themselves and expand their power and perpetuate their party or their individual rule,” Young said.
In response, Young said the United States must remind the rest of the world of the benefits of freedom, human rights, democracy and free enterprise — even if Americans are worn out from recent wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Global War on Terror.
“At a time when we’ve been through two decades of overseas conflict, our national debt is in the $30 trillions, there is, I think, a natural impulse to want to withdraw, to consolidate, to turn our attention inward — and that would be the most disadvantageous thing to us, to our way of life, to our future prosperity,” Young said.
“This is actually when we want to work by, with and through like-minded individuals, like-minded countries, to support our way of life, to continue supporting the Ukrainian freedom fighters whose territorial integrity and whose sovereignty has been infringed; to support our friends in Israel who have been through, what some are characterizing, as a worse version of 9/11.”
Young emphasized that supporting Ukraine and Israel not only is the right thing to do, but doing so is essential to show other nations, particularly Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, that the U.S. keeps its commitments to its allies in times of trouble.
“All these pieces are linked in very interesting ways, and we are being watched,” Young said. “The world is watching.”
Braun, on the other hand, doesn’t particularly care what the world thinks. He believes a bigger threat to the United States comes from its $33 trillion national debt, and the failure to immediately cut federal spending imperils America more significantly than a far off war.
Nevertheless, Braun indicated he’s willing to support a plan proposed by House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., to give $14.3 billion in aid to Israel — provided the cost of the assistance is deducted from an appropriation provided last year to the IRS that’s increasing federal revenue by catching tax cheats and enabling more Americans to pay their federal income taxes online at no cost.
“I fully support Speaker Johnson’s plan to support our ally Israel in their fight against Hamas terrorists in a standalone bill with the funds offset by cuts to President Biden’s bloated $80 billion IRS budget,” Braun said.
Specifically, Braun said he can’t countenance combining aid to Israel and Ukraine in a single piece of legislation, along with support for Taiwan and U.S. border enforcement, as the Biden administration has proposed in its $105 billion “minibus” spending package.
“These are two separate and unrelated conflicts and it would be wrong to leverage support of aid to Israel in attempt to get additional aid for Ukraine across the finish line,” Braun said in a recent letter to Senate leadership signed by eight additional Republican senators.
Young did not sign that letter. He acknowledged a foreign aid package topping $100 billion is expensive, but he said not getting involved now, when we can support Ukrainian and Israeli warriors, could mean American “boots on the ground” someday might be needed to finish the fights.
“If you study your history, if we don’t get involved early it’s far more likely that later on you’re going to get pulled into something that will involve a more robust commitment and far more expensive in terms of lives and treasure,” Young said.