Will U.S. Support for Ukraine Survive the Midterms?
Given Ukraine’s determination to win the war, and given America’s bipartisan support in the House and Senate, now is not the time to wane on Ukraine.
Next week, millions of Americans will gather at the polls to vote for their congressional representatives. Many voters will have the economy, inflation, and rising food and gas prices on their minds. But Ukraine will also be on the ballot.
Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the United States has sent tens of billions in humanitarian, medical, financial, and defense aid to Ukraine. This assistance, in addition to the aid provided by other countries, has made a big difference in the war. Aside from Ukraine’s grit and spirit, Western assistance has allowed Ukraine to launch a successful counteroffensive against Russian forces. The Ukrainians have reclaimed thousands of miles of territory in the north, south, and east, pushing Russian troops out of the country. In other words, Ukraine has regained a lot of ground in a short period of time.
There is a fear, however, that the Ukrainian counteroffensive could be in jeopardy should the Republicans gain a majority in the House and Senate. In a recent interview with Punchbowl News, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) stated that the United States could not “write a blank check to Ukraine.”
McCarthy is not the only Republican who has spoken out against aid to Ukraine. Throughout the course of the war, several Republican candidates for Congress have criticized American aid to Ukraine. They, like McCarthy, have argued that the United States cannot continue sending large aid packages to this Eastern Europe state because these funds should be used to address various domestic issues. Several Republican Congressmen and women have also voted against sending more aid to Ukraine. In May, fifty-seven House Republicans voted against a large aid package to Ukraine. Similarly, eleven Republican Senators voted against a Ukrainian aid bill.
Given these recent developments, many who support Ukraine fear that Republicans would cut off aid to Ukraine. A reduction in U.S. assistance would allow the Russians to regroup and re-strategize. This could potentially turn the tide in the war, and it would lead to many more deaths.
The causes for concern are understandable and valid. Many Republicans have spoken out against sending aid to Ukraine. Several progressives in Congress have also recently called for a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine, something which would condemn millions of Ukrainians to Russian occupation in the east and south. Finally, growing partisan differences could slow down the critical and timely aid the Ukrainians need to win the war.
But not all hope is lost. Despite these events, there are reasons to believe why aid to Ukraine will not wane after the midterm elections.
To date, Ukraine still has strong bipartisan support in Congress. While some Senate and House Republicans voted against sending additional aid to Ukraine, these bills were still passed with significant bipartisan support. President Joe Biden also stated that the United States is committed to Ukraine, and that the United States will support Ukraine “as long as it takes.”
If the Republicans were to take control of Congress, blocking assistance to Ukraine would be rather difficult. It may even be unlikely that any future constraints on Ukrainian aid would be signed into law.
First, Republicans would need to introduce a bill in the House that would limit or prevent future aid to Ukraine. If the bill is passed by a majority, it would need to be passed by a majority in the Senate. In the unlikely event that the bill is passed by both chambers of Congress, it would then appear on Biden’s desk. The American president would surely veto a bill of this nature, meaning the Republicans would need a two-thirds majority to override the president’s veto. Given the current bipartisan support for Ukraine in Congress, an override of the veto would be unlikely.
Second, not all Republicans support McCarthy’s stance on Ukraine. In contrast, these politicians have reaffirmed their support for Kyiv. In a statement issued on his website, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY) stated that the “Biden Administration and Ukraine’s friends across the globe must be quicker and more proactive to get Ukraine the aid they need.”
America has to “give [the Ukrainians] what they need,” U.S. representative Mike McCaul (R-TX) added. “When we give [the Ukrainians] what they need, they win.” Other prominent Republicans such as Representatives Mike Turner (OH) and Mike Rogers (AL), and Senator James Risch (ID) stated that they would continue to support Ukraine during its time of need.
Finally, American public support for Ukraine remains strong. According to a poll conducted by Pew Research Center in September, 37 percent of Americans believed that the United States was sending an appropriate amount of aid to Ukraine. Similarly, a Morning Consult poll found that 42 percent of respondents believed the “U.S. has an obligation to help Ukraine.” Reuters reported the figure even higher, saying three in four Americans believe the United States should support Ukraine.
In summary, while some Republican members of Congress have spoken out about aid to Ukraine, it is still strongly supported by the American public. Ukraine is also strongly supported by both parties of Congress.
Ukraine, in its fight for survival, has continued to demonstrate that it is willing to fight for and defend Western values and democracy. It is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve true freedom and democracy, and it will fight until the bitter end. Given Ukraine’s determination to win the war, and given America’s bipartisan support in the House and Senate, now is not the time to wane on Ukraine.
Mark Temnycky is an accredited freelance journalist covering Eastern Europe and a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. He can be found on Twitter @MTemnycky