The Republican majority of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday expressed support for pushing through a resolution that would audit the Biden administration’s military assistance to Ukraine, despite Democratic opposition.
The resolution gained Republican support in an initial voice vote during a committee markup. A recorded vote of the full committee was postponed until Friday.
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The resolution, H.Res 300, was introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), and calls for the president and secretary of defense to transmit to Congress all documents indicating any plans for current or future military assistance to Ukraine.
House Democrats said the measure would undermine strong, bipartisan support for robust assistance to Ukraine to fend off Russia’s more than year-long war of aggression against the country.
Rep. Kathy Manning (D-N.C.), called the measure “divisive and ill advised” and said it is a “partisan political ploy, and the height of legislative irresponsibility” that jeopardizes U.S. national security and partnership with European allies and Ukraine.
“Passage of this measure would represent a gift to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and his Kremlin cronies and provide visibility into the plans our military and intelligence leaders strive to protect at all costs. Therefore, we must reject it,” she said.
A similar measure introduced by Gaetz in the previous Congress failed to pass what was then the Democrat-majority committee. But it still gained the votes of all Republican members, underscoring the GOP’s effort to portray itself as the party of oversight on U.S. assistance to Ukraine.
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Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), expressing support for continued U.S. assistance to Ukraine, said during the hearing that he supported H. Res. 300 because “every dollar counts.”
“U.S. support is enduring. But it is not without the strings of accountability,” he said. “I support this resolution, as it is consistent with House Republicans’ oversight agenda and of the U.S. Ukraine aid.”
But that position was criticized by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), saying the resolution is in line with public positions from Gaetz and far-right allies like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who have opposed all U.S. assistance to Ukraine.
Gaetz earlier this year introduced the “Ukraine Fatigue Resolution” which would direct the U.S. to end all American military and economic assistance to Ukraine — approximately $45 billion has been provided since Putin launched a full-scale invasion in February 2022.
“If we pass a resolution authored by Mr. Gaetz and Ms. Greene, we are sending an unequivocal message — I do not believe you intend or I intend — with respect to Ukraine,” Connolly directed toward Issa.
“We’re in a war. Children are dying. maternity hospitals are being blown to smithereens by a depraved sociopath in the Kremlin. This is no time to send any signal to those brave people, that we waver one iota in our ongoing support.”
The bill text also includes a provision requiring the Pentagon to describe to Congress documents related to U.S. special forces deployed on the ground in Ukraine.
The Pentagon has said a small number of Marines are providing security at the U.S. embassy and helping with weapons oversight, however critics in the GOP have warned having U.S. troops anywhere in Ukraine raises the risk of direct conflict with Russia.
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Issa sought to speak to those concerns in Wednesday’s hearing.
“The small U.S. military presence in Ukraine, along with and providing embassy security, is critical to U.S. defense attache efforts to monitor the U.S. weapons provided to Ukraine,” Issa said.
“Let me make it clear. They are not able to fight, they are not forces against Russia or in any way supporting directly the war effort. Instead they are on the frontlines of the oversight efforts.”
Gaetz introduced his bill as a “Resolution of Inquiry,” and that compelled the House Foreign Affairs Committee to bring up the text for consideration within 14 days or allowed the Florida lawmaker to force a vote on the floor of the House.
A recorded committee vote on Friday is likely to gain the full support of the Republican majority, and allow the text to be reported favorably out of the House Foreign Affairs panel.
But Issa said this did not automatically lead to a vote on the House floor. It is unclear if all Republicans would rally behind the legislation text, with the majority of members on both sides of the aisle keen to project bipartisan U.S. support for Ukraine.
Issa said the committee’s actions Wednesday cut off what would have been a guaranteed pathway to a full House vote.
“If we did not act, if we did not hold this today based on the number of days then it would automatically go to the floor. And that’s one of the reasons that, as we all know here on the committee, we have statutory responsibility to consider these and either reject or accept but regardless, the privilege ends today,” he said.