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Biden pushes Congress to support Ukraine with oil, sanctions and jets

The White House initially refused to ban Russian oil imports to the U.S.

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Biden pushes Congress to support Ukraine with oil, sanctions and jets

The Obama administration halted legislation that would have removed Russia from its normal trade status. President Joe Biden announced this move on Friday . After convincing senators to delay imposing Russian sanctions the administration imposed stiff sanctions on its own. It rejected Congress' attempts to stop the Nord Stream 2 oil pipeline and led its allies in halting them.

"What do all these things have in common?" Sen. After reciting a similar listing, Rob Portman (R-Ohio) asked.

"In each case, the administration said no" until legislators from both parties applied pressure to the White House for a change of course. "And in every case, the administration did 180."

It is a pattern that has been noticed during the growing war in Ukraine: A remarkablely united Congress is pushing Biden to move faster and further with a U.S. reaction to a devastating conflict without a clear endgame.

Instead of trying to win political support as the Ukraine conflict worsens, lawmakers from both parties are pushing President Putin to act faster and more forcefully to end the invasion by Russian President Vladimir Putin. It has resulted in a rare, but unified, resolve from the legislative branches, which is influencing executive branch decision-making.

"We've seen it with this president time after time, where he says, ‘We can’t do that,'" said Sen. Joni Ernest, R-Iowa. Ernst is a combat veteran. Then, he reverses his course.

Ernst and other members are now pushing for the Biden administration's reconsideration of sending Polish warplanes to Ukraine that Ukrainian pilots can fly in the fight against Russian aggression.

More than 40 Republican senators joined a letterurging Biden to reverse course following the Pentagon's rejection of a Polish offer to transfer the Soviet-era MiGs from Poland to Ukraine. Last weekend, Volodymyr Zelenksyy , the Ukrainian President, pleaded with Congress that even if the U.S. would not impose a no fly zone it should send the planes and any other air support.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said, "Send these MiGs."

Initial statements by the administration indicated that they supported NATO ally Poland sending planes to Ukraine. But shut the door on Poland's surprise offer to send the planes instead to a U.S. military base in Germany to be transferred to Ukraine. It was considered too risky by military leaders. They feared that such a move would provoke Putin and suggested that other weapons might be more effective than jets.

During Thursday's hearing with officials from the administration, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) stated that there is bipartisan support for providing these planes. "It's disappointing to see the reluctance of the administration. It's coming across indecision as well as bickering."

In recent weeks, Congress has been a constant drumbeat. This can be seen as both a critique of the White House response and a nod in approval signaling to Biden's administration just how far they are willing to go to help Ukraine.

Instead of a war weary Congress as one might expect after the devastating withdrawal from Afghanistan, lawmakers seem determined to do everything possible for Ukraine, even if that means not including U.S. troops in the air or on the ground.

Biden made it clear that there will not be any direct U.S. confrontations with Russia. The president admitted Friday that he had asked Congress to delay on certain issues, including the new Russian trade status, "until we could line up all our key allies to maintain us in complete unity."

Biden was wary about making the U.S. response to Russia only and has instead built an impressive Western alliance that has bolstered NATO and drawn in Asian countries with a common goal not seen in a generation.

Biden stated Friday that unity among our allies was crucial, "as you all know, from at least my perspective,"

Later, he shared with House Democrats at their annual retreat his frustration at times over Ukraine's response. He said that it was more important to keep the allies together than moving fast. He spoke out about his work on the Russian energy ban and the Europeans who are more dependent upon Russian oil. He explained that it took a while.

He thanked Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker, for holding off on the Trade Bill, and joked, "I drove my wife crazy."

Despite the intensifying conflict in Ukraine, lawmakers from both sides are showing that they support the president.

This week, Congress approved a $13.6 Billion aid package to Ukraine. It includes humanitarian and military support.

After her call with Zelenskyy this week, Pelosi said that more funding was needed to rebuild the country.

Many lawmakers see Ukraine as more than the Ukrainian flag's blue and yellow colors.

Many believed they had given Zelenskyy their word when he made a "desperate plea” for help last weekend. They promised to do all they could to support the young democracy's fight against Putin's attack.

Senator Susan Collins (Republican from Maine) said that it is difficult to imagine hearing about the attacks on Ukraine, which included the deadly strike on a hospital for mothers,, and not making sure the U.S. does everything it can.

She stated that "I believe there is more agreement than might appear on the necessity to allow the MiGs to go forward and provide deadly drones,"



 

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