Republican Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky is going to make negotiations to avoid a government shutdown even harder.
Last week, he announced that he would oppose any government spending bill that included new money being sent to Ukraine to support them in their war against Russia. This is likely to put a wrench in negotiations, as Republicans and Democrats are scrambling to pass a spending bill — even a short-term one – that would keep the government running.
If a bill isn’t passed by September 30, the federal government will shut down.
Paul has frequently criticized the massive amount of foreign aid the U.S. government sends to other countries. He stood his ground last week, saying that he would slow down any spending bill from advancing through the Senate quickly if it included more aid for Ukraine.
He wrote an op-ed for The American Conservative last week, in which he wrote:
“Today I’m putting congressional leadership & [Joe Biden] on notice that I will oppose any effort to hold the federal government hostage for Ukraine funding. I will not consent to expedited passage on any spending measure that provides any more U.S. aid to Ukraine.”
Paul is concerned about the effect that approving additional aid for Ukraine would have on the climbing national debt. He also expressed his skepticism about what interests and strategy the U.S. has in Ukraine.
“When will the aid requests end? When will the war end? Can someone explain what victory in Ukraine looks like? President Biden certainly can’t. His administration has failed to articulate a clear strategy or objective in this war, and Ukraine’s long-awaited counter-offensive has failed to make meaningful gains in the east.”
In the past, Paul has held up aid to Ukraine, arguing that much more oversight is needed for the billions of dollars in military and humanitarian support that the U.S. has sent them.
One day after Paul’s op-ed was published, a group of Republicans sent a separate letter to the Office of Management and Budget’s director, Shalanda Young, saying that they also would be against more aid being sent to Ukraine.
That group, which included Paul, was led by Representative Chip Roy from Texas and Senator J.D. Vance from Ohio. They wrote that they would vote against $24 billion in additional aid that Biden has requested to be sent to Ukraine.
The GOP group wrote:
“The American people deserve to know what their money has gone to. How is the counteroffensive going? Are the Ukranians any closer to victory than they were six months ago? What is our strategy, and what is the president’s exit plan? What does the administration define as victory in Ukraine?
“It would be an absurd abdication of congressional responsibility to grant this request without knowing the answers to these questions.”
All of this opposition from Republicans in Congress comes just as Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, traveled to Washington last week to lobby Congress for additional support.