Eleven Republican senators bucked their leadership and voted against a motion proposing a $40 billion security aid package for Ukraine on Monday, a sign of growing GOP opposition to U.S. efforts to counter the bloody three-month invasion of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The security package is not expected to pass until the end of the week because only one Republican senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, opposes a quick vote on the measure.
Paul called for the legislation to give an inspector general the power to oversee spending, which he called unprecedented and financially unsound. But Democrats have said that would require a new vote in the House and waste valuable time given Russia’s daily bombardment of Ukrainian cities that is causing horrific scenes of death and devastation.
In his speech on the floor earlier Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) called Paul’s efforts to delay passage of the bill “totally unacceptable,” saying he “only serves to strengthen Putin’s hand in the long run”.
Oleksandra Ustinova, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, lamented that the delay would cost lives in a post on Twitter:
Ten other Republican senators joined Paul in voting against the motion to advance the security package on Monday; many of these senators made statements favorable to the fate of Ukraine after the Russian invasion:
Marsha Blackburn (Tennis)
John Boozman (Ark.)
Mike Braun (Ind.)
Mike Crapo (Idaho)
Bill Hagerty (Tennis)
Josh Hawley (Month)
Mike Lee (Utah)
Roger Marshall (Kan.)
Tommy Tuberville (Alabama)
The list of lawmakers obstructing aid to Ukraine has grown steadily over the past month. Last week, 57 Republicans voted against the Ukraine aid bill in the House. Two months ago, only three House GOP members voted against a separate security package.
Supporters of former President Donald Trump and right-wing pundits including Fox News host Tucker Carlson have intensified the rhetoric against US support for Ukraine aid. Trump also questioned the spending measure last week, linking it to formula shortages that have been attributed to a safety recall and supply chain issues.
“Democrats are sending another $40 billion to Ukraine, but American parents are struggling to feed their kids,” Trump said in a statement released by his super PAC.
Senator Josh Hawley (Mos.) argued that spending $40 billion on Ukraine is “not in America’s interest”, adding on Twitter that it “allows Europe to freeload, neglects domestic priorities (the border), allows Europe to freeload, bypasses critical interests abroad and is not meaningful oversight.”
But Sen. Rick Scott (Florida), a deficit hawk and, like Hawley, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, voted in favor of the bill. Trump’s top ally called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “threat to our national security and the security of our Democratic allies.” He added, “America must always protect our interests and support democracy over tyranny.”
Monday’s vote to advance the Ukraine package came shortly after a trip to Kyiv by Senate Republican leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.). After meeting President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, McConnell told reporters he assured him “that support for Ukraine and this war against the Russians is bipartisan,” including from “an overwhelming majority of Republicans”.
McConnell also addressed opposition to Ukraine aid from the Trump wing of his party in a statement after the trip.
“Ukraine is not asking anyone else to lead its fight,” he said. “They only ask for the tools they need to defend themselves.”
“America’s support for Ukraine’s self-defense is not mere philanthropy,” he added. “Defending the principle of sovereignty, promoting stability in Europe, and imposing costs on Russia’s naked aggression have a direct and vital bearing on America’s national security and vital interests.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.