Correspondent in Washington,
The White House launched an urgent appeal to American elected officials on Monday, December 4, asking them to act without delay. “We are out of money and almost out of time to support Ukraine in its fight,” the director of the Office of Management and Budget wrote to the leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives. “Without Congressional action by the end of the year, we will run out of resources to purchase weapons and equipment from Ukraine and to supply equipment from U.S. military stockpiles,” he said. she warned. There are no magic funds available to deal with this situation. Congress must decide whether "we continue to fight for freedom around the world or whether we ignore the lessons we have learned from history and let Putin and autocracy prevail."
The issue of aid to Ukraine has become a divisive issue within the Republican Party. An isolationist wing of the party, embodied by Donald Trump, believes that this money is being squandered unchecked and that these funds would be better used to ensure the security of the United States border. A more conservative movement, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, continues to support funding aid to Ukraine, and considers it in the United States' interest to contribute in the defense of this country against the Russian invasion.
Last October, the White House asked Congress to vote on additional funding of $106 billion in military aid, intended for Ukraine, but also for Israel and other allied countries in the Indo-Pacific region. . This text has since come up against opposition from Republicans who are demanding that this aid be subject to more control, and also demanding in return from the Democratic administration a toughening of immigration policy and the right to asylum. , and increased security at the border with Mexico.
In his response to the White House letter, the new Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson asserted that the Biden administration “has not substantively addressed” “legitimate concerns about the lack of 'a clear strategy in Ukraine' or 'a plan to adequately ensure control over the use of US taxpayer funds'. “House Republicans believe that any additional spending on national security must start at our own border,” Johnson said. “We believe both issues can be reached if Senate Democrats and the White House negotiate sensibly.”
Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson, almost unknown until his election as House speaker, has twice voted against military aid to Ukraine, most recently last September, days after the visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Washington. But he has since created a surprise by now declaring himself in favor of military assistance to this country. “We cannot allow Vladimir Putin to invade Europe and we understand the need to help Ukraine,” he said last week at a public meeting in Florida.
But he must take into account the opposition of part of his parliamentary group, and the risk he runs if he uses Democratic votes, which cost his predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, his position. The Senate, with a narrow Democratic majority, wants to vote this week on the supplement proposed by Biden of 106 billion dollars. But in the absence of a deal on border security, Senate Republicans will vote against it. The text is even less likely to pass the House, where Republicans demand a virtual closure of the border with Mexico in exchange for their vote, and want to separate aid to Ukraine from aid to Israel and in Taiwan.
Republican elected officials must also take into account the growing reluctance of their constituencies. According to a recent poll, 59% of Republicans believe the United States is spending too much on Ukraine. Since the Russian invasion, Congress has approved more than $100 billion to aid kyiv, providing considerable aid to that country's defense. The White House letter argued that this sum was not exactly paid directly to Ukraine, and that much of it was in fact injected into the US defense industry, many of which are located in Ukraine. Republican states. “It has helped strengthen our military readiness by purchasing new equipment to replace what we are sending to Ukraine, restarting and expanding production lines and creating jobs in dozens of states across our country.”