Eighteen Republican senators oppose the majority of their party and former President Donald J. Trump, who joined Democrats in pushing military assistance to Ukraine to be approved by the Senate, underscoring a growing foreign policy divide within the contemporary Republican Party.
The 18 senators, primarily national security hawks, including several military veterans, provided the votes needed to overcome multiple filibusters supported by the majority of their colleagues, clearing the way for approval within days of $95 billion in aid to Ukraine, Israel and their allies. the Pacific region.
“The thread that unites this group is national security,” said Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican who is part of the 18. “America’s national security, the belief that what is happening in Ukraine matters to the United States, the belief that what happens in Ukraine, what happens in Israel matters, and the belief that what happens in the South Pacific matters. »
Supporting the funding could lead to condemnation from Mr. Trump and his allies, a possibility that was likely a factor in some people’s decision to oppose it.
Some Republicans who have balked at the bill have suggested they may ultimately support the bill upon final passage after attempting to use their opposition to win the opportunity to amend it — an effort that failed. so far not been successful. But it remains an open question whether more than half of the 49 Republicans will vote for it.
Here’s a closer look at the defectors so far and what motivates them.
All but two Senate Republican leaders
The group includes the Senate’s top two Republicans, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and John Thune of South Dakota, as well as two other members of the leadership team: Senators Joni Ernst of Iowa and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.
Two other leaders, Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming and Steve Daines of Montana, who both supported Mr. Trump, oppose it.
The sharp divide on funding within the upper echelons of the Senate Republican Conference reflects a deep division within the party, which for much of the post-World War II era was a staunch supporter of exercise of American power abroad and the support of American allies. But there is a growing and strong sentiment among Republicans – encouraged by Mr Trump – to withdraw from foreign involvement.
Mr. McConnell has been one of the strongest supporters of sending aid to Ukraine. He has called Kiev’s war against Russian aggression an existential issue and has argued with growing fervor in recent days that the United States must not abandon its democratic ally who opposes President Vladimir V. Putin.
Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican who has led an effort to slow the implementation of military assistance measures, on Monday called the idea that support for Ukraine was essential to security “ridiculous.” national of America.
“I think sending money to Ukraine actually puts our national security at even greater risk,” Mr. Paul said. “Leaders have come together, but this is not the right kind of compromise. It’s a compromise to plunder the Treasury. They are spending borrowed money.
Others who voted for the funding include Senators John Cornyn of Texas, a former leading Republican who wants to join the leadership, and Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the Senate’s longest-serving Republican.
National security leaders and veterans
Several members of the Armed Services Committee supported passage of the bill, including Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the panel’s top Republican. Other members of that committee who voted in favor of military assistance include Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Ms. Ernst, and Senators Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma.
Ms. Ernst served overseas as an officer in the Iowa National Guard and Mr. Sullivan is a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve. A third veteran Republican who has been a strong supporter of the aid, Sen. Todd Young of Indiana, is a former Navy officer.
Democrats praised the 18 Republicans who joined them in the Ukraine effort.
“I think they understand the need to support Ukraine, especially since this is a clash between a rules-based international order and Russian autocracy,” said Senator Jack Reed , Democrat from Rhode Island and chairman of the Armed Services Committee. “They also understand that this could soon involve our military. »
Traditional Republicans and Appropriators
Members of the Appropriations Committee, including two more centrist senators — Susan Collins of Maine, the senior Republican on the spending committee, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — were also instrumental in increasing aid. Other supporters of the bill include Mr. Moran, Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana and Ms. Capito.
The measure has support from a handful of others known for breaking with their party and supporting bipartisan compromise, including Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee; Bill Cassidy of Louisiana; and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
“I think there is a common understanding that if we fail in this vote, if we don’t support Ukraine – that’s not a boast, that’s not a hyperbole – bad things are going to happen. produce,” Mr. Tillis said Monday.
Republican supporters of the legislation say they cannot worry about Mr. Trump or the potential electoral consequences given the urgency of efforts to restrain Russia and avoid a broader war in Europe or Asia.
“The stakes are high and we must seize the moment,” Ms. Collins said.
As for a possible backlash, Mr. Tillis said he was not worried.
“I slept like a baby last night,” he said, referring to his vote Sunday to defeat the filibuster by a majority of his Republican colleagues.
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