Some Opposition Emerges in U.S. Congress to Washington’s Chicken Game

The week before the U.S. Senate voted on the Biden administration’s proposal to spend an additional $40 billion on weapons and support for Ukraine, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell made a surprise visit to Kiev, arriving there on May14. After returning from his trip, which included a high profile photo op with President Volodymyr Zelensky, McConnell derided the idea that aid to Ukraine is “philanthropy.”

The vote to provide the funds, the Republican senator said, “bears directly on America’s National security and vital interests.” He added that the “threat to American and European security will grow” if Ukraine “fails to repel Russian aggression.” McConnell’s trip took place less than two weeks after Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the U.S. House went to Kiev with a delegation of Democrats, who were received by Zelensky.

Their visits may have been intended to consolidate support for President Biden’s large arms bills for Ukraine, which was passed 368 to 57 in the House on May 10, and 86 to 11 in the Senate on May 14. Altogether, the U.S. has now committed to providing funds amounting to more than $53 billion.

Though the outcome of the votes was never in doubt, Newsweek reported that support for the weapons sales is slipping in the polls. The latest bill was delayed in the Senate, when Republican Senator Rand Paul demanded an amendment be included which would set up an inspector general to scrutinize the new spending. A Washington Post story quoted defense analysts who said that, as in the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan, it is not possible to track the disbursement of such large shipments into a war zone. In fact, much of the military equipment which was not immediately destroyed by Russian precision strikes, ended up in the hands of neo-nazi and other terrorist forces.

Other Republican Representatives and Senators who voted against the bill, have also denounced the “chicken game” Washington is playing with Moscow. Rep. Thomas Massie blasted the Majority Leader of the House Steny Hoyer for declaring during the course of a debate on May 13, not once, but three times, that the “United States is at war”. “What the heck. We didn’t vote for war,” Massie shot back. (Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress has the sole power to declare the country at war.) Rep. Chip Roy commented the same day: “I’m wondering when we voted to go to war. If we’re going to have a proxy war, and we’re going to give $40 billion to Ukraine, because we want to look all fancy with our blue and yellow ribbons and feel good about ourselves, maybe we should actually have a debate in this chamber.”

the day after the vote, their colleague, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, had blasted the Biden administration’s policy of “sleepwalking into a war”, by provoking “Russia’s red line”, including by arming neo-Nazis such as the Azov Battalion. “Just a year ago we lost a war against goat herders waving rifles [in Afghanistan]. Now we’re rushing to fight a nation that possesses 6,000 nuclear warheads?” He also hit the intelligence services who “can’t stop bragging to news outlets about how America helps Ukraine assassinate Russian generals and sink Russia’s flag ship.”

Ironically, the “progressive” Democrats in Congress, typified by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who are thought to be anti-war activists, all voted for the bill.

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