McCarthy Backtracks on Stripping Ukraine Aid From Pentagon Funding Bill

House speaker says that another measure also includes money for Ukraine, making it "too difficult" to remove.
McCarthy Backtracks on Stripping Ukraine Aid From Pentagon Funding Bill
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 19, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Tom Ozimek
9/23/2023
Updated:
9/24/2023
0:00

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Sept. 23 backtracked on his pledge to remove Ukraine aid from the Pentagon funding bill, citing difficulty in removing money earmarked for Kyiv from a different proposal—and opting to keep it in both measures.

Mr. McCarthy told reporters on Capitol Hill that he made the decision to keep the $300 million of Ukraine aid in the Pentagon spending package after realizing that another measure that funds State Department and Foreign Operations also includes money meant for Kyiv, per The Hill.

“That’s not solving it because one of the others has some Ukraine things,” Mr. McCarthy told reporters, referring to an appropriations bill that funds State Department and Foreign Operations, in the context of his earlier promise to remove Ukraine aid from the Pentagon appropriations bill.

“It became too difficult to do that, so we’re leaving it in.”

Mr. McCarthy's remarks represent a major reversal from his pledge a day earlier to strip Ukraine funding from the Pentagon spending bill and vote on it as a separate proposal.

“It would be out and voted on by itself,” Mr. McCarthy said on Sept. 22 after reporters asked him about the Ukraine aid in the military bill.

 House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks with reporters in Washington on Sept. 19, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks with reporters in Washington on Sept. 19, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

His pledge to remove the money for Kyiv from the Pentagon bill was prompted by a move by five Republicans who opposed a procedural vote on the Department of Defense (DoD) spending measure, preventing the legislation from advancing.

Reps. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Eli Crane (R-Ariz.), and Tom Cole (R-Okla.) all voted against the measure.

The failed procedural vote was a disappointment for Mr. McCarthy, who's been trying to move the appropriations process forward in a bid to avert a looming government shutdown.

Next week, the House is set for procedural votes on four appropriations bills, including the Pentagon measure and another that funds the State Department and Foreign Operations.

Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) told The Hill that the House plans to vote on amendments to strike Ukraine aid from both measures.

'Our Nation Is Being Invaded'

Mr. McCarthy said he expects Ms. Greene to vote against the four appropriation bills because of the inclusion of Ukraine aid.

He had said that he would strip the Ukraine funding from the Pentagon bill and hold a separate vote on it in an effort to persuade Ms. Greene to get on board and back the spending measure.

Ms. Greene, who on Sept. 21 voted against advancing the Pentagon bill, said she opposed more funding for Ukraine "while we're not defending our own country," referring to the illegal immigration crisis along the southern border.

"Every single member of the U.S. military AND every member of Congress swears an oath to the United States of America," Ms. Greene wrote in a post on X. "Our nation is being invaded at our Southern border. I’m not voting for the rule or the bill because it funds the war in Ukraine, while we’re not defending our own country.
 Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) speaks on the House floor on May 23, 2023. (U.S. House of Representatives/Screenshot via NTD)
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) speaks on the House floor on May 23, 2023. (U.S. House of Representatives/Screenshot via NTD)

Ms. Greene, like some other Republicans, has been a vocal critic of the Biden administration's border policies, blaming them for fueling a tidal wave of illegal immigration.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a Sept. 22 update that 304,162 people tried to enter the United States illegally in August, a record high for a given month.

Since President Joe Biden took office, Border Patrol agents have arrested more than 7 million people who have crossed the border illegally between ports of entry.

With her remarks about the United States being "invaded," Ms. Greene stands alongside the likes of former President Donald Trump and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who have both called the illegal immigration crisis an "invasion."

As lawmakers on Capitol Hill remained mired in efforts to advance appropriation bills before the end-of-the-month deadline for a government shutdown, the Biden administration on Sept. 22 announced an additional $325 million in security assistance for Ukraine.

The aid package, which is separate from the $300 million penciled in for Kyiv in the Pentagon funding bill, will utilize the Presidential Drawdown Authority for Ukraine, meaning the Pentagon will take the weapons from existing U.S. stockpiles and quickly transfer them to Ukraine.

The move marks the Biden administration's 47th drawdown of equipment from its own inventory to Ukraine since August 2021.

Tom Ozimek is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times. He has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education.
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