Rand Paul blocked the Senate’s passage of $ 40 billion in aid to Ukraine

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul challenged the leaders of both parties Thursday and slammed until next week the Senate’s approval of an additional $ 40 billion to help. Ukraine and its allies resisted the three -month invasion of Russia.

With the Senate ready to debate and vote on military and economic aid packages, Paul denied the leaders the unanimous agreement that they should continue. The bipartisan move, backed by President Joe Biden, underscores the U.S.’s determination to strengthen its support for many of Ukraine’s forces.

The legislation was overwhelmingly approved by the House and had strong bipartisan support in the Senate. The last passage is unmistakable.

However, Paul’s opposition is a departure from the overwhelming sentiment in Congress in favor of Ukraine’s immediate aid, as it struggles to withstand Vladimir Putin’s brutal aggression and tries to discourage him from raising in war.

It was also a rebellion against his fellow Kentucky Republican, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who on Thursday called on “both sides” to “help us pass this urgent funding bill today.”

Paul, a libertarian who has always been opposed to U.S. intervention abroad, said he wanted the language to be included in the bill, without a vote, with an inspector general reviewing the new spending. He has a long history of demanding last-minute changes by blocking or threatening to delay passing edge fees, including measures involving lynching, allowing Russia, preventing a federal closure. , defense budget, government monitoring and health care provision on the Sept. 11 attacks on first responders.

Democrats and McConnell opposed Paul’s push and offered to have a vote on his speech. Paul was likely to lose that vote and turned down the offer.

Paul, who was unsuccessful in seeking his party’s 2016 presidential nomination, argued that the increased spending would outweigh U.S. spending on many local programs, compare to Russia’s entire defense budget and deepen deficits. federal and exacerbate inflation. Last year’s budget deficit was nearly $ 2.8 trillion but is likely to go down, and spending on the bill is less than 0.2% of the size of the U.S. economy, suggesting that its impact on inflation may be small.

“Whatever sympathy the cause, my oath of duty is for the national security of the United States of America,” Paul said. “We cannot save Ukraine by destroying the US economy.”

Democrats say they oppose Paul’s plan because it would expand the power of an existing inspector general whose current purpose is limited to Afghanistan. That would disqualify Mr. Biden once past presidents had to make an appointment to the position, they said.

“It’s clear from the junior senator from Kentucky’s remarks, he doesn’t want to help Ukraine,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat in New York. “All he can do with his actions here now is delay that help, not stop it.”

Schumer and McConnell stood almost to the side as they tried to push the legislation forward.

“They’re just asking for the resources they need to protect themselves against this deranged invasion,” McConnell said of the Ukrainians. “And they need this help now.”

The House voted 368-57 on Tuesday to approve the measure. It is supported by all Democrats and most Republicans, even if every “no” vote comes from the GOP.

Bipartisan support for Ukraine is in part driven by accounts of Russia’s atrocities against Ukrainian civilians that are impossible to ignore. It also reflects strategic concerns about Putin’s allowing sixteen European territories unanswered as his attack on his western neighbor grinds in its 12th week.

“Helping Ukraine is not just an example of philanthropy,” McConnell said. “It directly brings to America’s national security and vital interests that Russia’s naked aggression will not succeed and will incur significant costs.”

Biden administration officials say they expect the latest aid measure to last until September. But with Ukraine taking heavy military and civilian losses and having no sense of when the fighting will end, Congress will finally face decisions about how much more aid will be provided during the large U.S. budget deficits and a risk of recession that could demand more spending on. house.

The latest bill, when added to the $ 13.6 billion approved by Congress in March, would push U.S. aid to the region to more than $ 50 billion. For the foresight, that would amount to $ 6 billion more than the U.S. spent on military and economic aid around the world in 2019, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

The push towards the passage occurred as Russia continued to fire Ukrainian forces and towns in the southern and eastern parts of the country. Reflecting on international concerns provoked by the attack, Finnish leaders announced their support joining NATO and Sweden seems not far away.

Mr. Biden demanded $ 33 billion from Congress two weeks ago. Lawmakers soon added $ 3.4 billion to its requests for military and humanitarian programs.

The measure includes $ 6 billion for Ukraine for intelligence, equipment and training for its forces, an additional $ 4 billion in funding to help Kyiv and NATO allies build their militaries.

There is $ 8.7 billion for the Pentagon to rebuild the stocks of weapons it sends to Ukraine and $ 3.9 billion for U.S. troops in the region.

The measure also includes $ 8.8 billion to keep the Kyiv government working, more than $ 5 billion to provide food to countries around the world that rely on Ukrainian crops destroyed in the war and $ 900 million to teach English and provide other services to refugees in Ukraine who have migrated. to the United States.

The biggest obstacle to rapid aid approval was removed this week when Biden and Democrats dropped their request to include billions more in the move to bolster U.S. efforts to counter the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans want separate COVID-19 legislation to be a battleground for a fight during the immigration election that divides Democrats.

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