Key Panel Calls on House to Quickly Pass Ukraine Aid Package

During Appropriations’ Defense Subcommittee hearing, Republican leaders say failing to help Kyiv fight off Russia will embolden China, Iran, North Korea.

House conservatives have stymied proposed supplemental funding packages for Ukraine since the fall. But their justifications for further delays in delivering military aid to Kyiv got little oxygen during an April 17 defense budget hearing before a key appropriations panel.

“With Mr. Putin saying very openly and repeatedly that he wants to restore the old Soviet Union, all of the nation states, in Eastern Europe especially, are looking to us,” House Armed Services Committee Chair Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) said, referring to the Russian leader’s demands seeking no further NATO expansion, no missiles on Russia’s borders, and a return of NATO operations back to its 1997 borders. “If we fail them, I think it fuels further the belief that Putin will try to succeed in restoring the old Soviet Union.”

And if and when Russia attempts to “pull back” former Soviet republics into its fold, such as NATO members in the Baltic and Poland, Mr. Rogers warned, such aggression would automatically trigger the treaty’s Article 5 and embroil the United States directly into a military conflict with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces.

“The last thing I want is for Americans to die on a hill in Poland when the Ukrainians are willing to do it with our help,” Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Texas) said, calling the proposed supplemental package a small price to pay “for the return on investment that we’re getting from the Ukrainians.”

It’s not just about Ukraine, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told the hearing. “If the Kremlin prevails in Ukraine, it would embolden would-be aggressors around the globe. And we know that China, Iran, and others are watching what Putin does and how we respond,” he said.

Ukraine funding—one of four House supplemental funding requests to surface on April 17—occupied significant spans of a 150-minute hearing before the House Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee on the Biden administration’s proposed Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25) $895.2 billion defense budget request.

During the hearing, which recessed briefly three times to remove disruptive pro-Palestinian demonstrators, newly-appointed House Appropriations Chair Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) announced that individual supplemental funding bills for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan had just been filed.

“My understanding is there will be a fourth bill that relates to border security, but those will be the component parts of the supplemental to be considered independently,” he said, calling the bill introductions “good news all around.”

“Good news on all fronts,” agreed subcommittee chair Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.).

The Senate in February passed a $95.3 billion supplemental package that would provide $60.1 billion to Ukraine, $14.1 billion to Israel, and $4.8 billion to Taiwan and other Pacific allies. The Senate bill also includes $9.1 billion in humanitarian aid to Gaza and Ukraine.

Rather than adopt the Senate’s supplemental omnibus, House Speaker Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) on April 15 said the chamber would consider three separate bills to provide aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Indo-Pacific.

Republican House leaders, including Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), have attempted to mitigate objections by some conservatives, including members of the House Freedom Caucus, by vowing to trim away some of the proposed supplemental expenditures and, in Ukraine’s case, structure aid as a loan.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) speaks as Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) listens during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Nov. 17, 2022. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) speaks as Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) listens during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Nov. 17, 2022. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

There was little—as in no—opposition to the supplement funding bills voiced by Republicans before the House defense appropriations panel, which unanimously called for the measures to be swiftly adopted.

That’s no surprise. Messrs. Cole, Calvert, Rogers, Appropriations Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chair Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chair Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) had already endorsed Mr. Johnson’s plan in a joint April 16 statement supporting the swift approval of the “full national security supplemental.”

Democrats couldn’t resist putting their Republican colleagues on the spot.

“I’m very concerned. I’m going to make this comment: Certain members of this House are acting as if Russia is our ally,” Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) said. “I hope that we can get the facts out that this is a very serious issue. I wish more people who [oppose Ukraine funding] in this House would attend this type of hearing to realize how dangerous that is.”

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) said the supplemental bills would generate more than $50 billion in business across 30 states to sustain momentum in rebuilding the nation’s hollowed-out defense industrial base.

Adopting the bills “would provide much-needed support for Ukraine, Taiwan, Israel, and it will make sure that we have the critical munitions we need here at home to protect the United States,” she said.

The Senate passed its supplemental package two months ago, Ms. McCollum said, scolding House Republicans. “It’s deeply unfortunate that it has not been brought directly to the floor of the House for a vote,” she said. “Our adversaries don’t operate under continuing resolutions and they don’t threaten to shut their government down.”

Mr. Austin said the supplemental package “invests in our industrial base” by sustaining a “demand signal” for weapons and munitions “designed and built by our industry, so that means good jobs—good American jobs.”

Ukraine’s need is urgent, he said. “We’re already seeing things on the battlefield begin to shift a bit in Russia’s favor” and that is unlikely to change unless Kyiv is replenished with “the right materials, the right munitions, the right weapons.”

Mr. Austin called on the House to “pass it as quickly as possible because time matters and Putin, again, is trying to exploit this time period where there’s doubt created about the U.S. resolve.”


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