Reviews | Chris Murphy’s warning: A GOP house will fund the fight in Ukraine

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the US government and many Americans have taken it for granted that we are deeply invested in this conflict, in practical and moral terms. But there are dissidents, many aligned with Donald Trump’s right-wing nationalist project, who for many reasons have been deeply skeptical of the Ukraine cause and our support for it.

Now, as Congress debates a new round of funding for Ukraine, a question arises: If Republicans take over one or both houses of Congress, could they turn off the tap on military and even humanitarian aid? ?

Senator Chris Murphy just put that possibility squarely on the table. In an interview, the Connecticut Democrat warned that increased GOP control over Congress could end military aid to Ukraine.

“If the Republicans take control of the House or the Senate, I think it’s likely that they will hold off on any further aid,” Murphy told us.

Right now, Senate Republicans appear to support the Biden administration‘s most recent request, for $12 billion to be added to an ongoing resolution funding the government through September. But if Republicans were to win the House (let alone the Senate), that could change everything.

“I think there is a real risk that the continuing resolution will be the last time we provide funds to Ukraine,” Murphy said, noting that this is more of a threat to the House, because its members are more beholden to Trump.

Trump himself has been all over the subject. Sometimes he attacks the idea of ​​sending help. Other times he takes credit for sending aid that Ukraine successfully used against Russia. But his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin does not seem to be tarnished.

“Trump always talks out of both sides of his mouth,” Murphy said. “But his lieutenants in charge of spreading the message online are getting the hell out of helping Ukraine.”

That a GOP house could cut aid is not a fear limited to Murphy. The publication Defense News recently reported that senior House GOP leadership would not commit to continuing aid if Republicans take control of the House.

The Chamber seems to be the most plausible future obstacle. Republicans are more likely to win the lower house, and the House is where the most tacit (or even overt) sympathy with Putin and Russia is concentrated.

Much of the GOP rhetoric on this is framed in budget terms, saying we shouldn’t be spending so much on Ukraine when the needs aren’t being met at home. Mainstream conservative groups such as Heritage Action for America have urged Republicans to vote against Ukraine aid packages, and 57 Republicans in the House voted no in May on a $40 billion aid package.

But some of the most direct promises to cut aid come from far-right Trumpists such as Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who are candid about their sympathies. As Representative Paul A. Gosar (R-Arizona) said once, “Ukraine is not our ally. Russia is not our enemy.

“The MAGA wing of the party, which is the dominant wing, says and thinks a lot of nice things about Putin,” Murphy told us.

If Republicans find themselves in a position to cut aid, pressure to do so from the conservative media may increase. After all, on top of everything else, a cut would be a defeat for the Biden administration.

The pro-Putin sentiment is already there. Tucker Carlson, cable television’s top-rated host, has so enthusiastically offered a pro-Russian twist that his segments are frequently rerun on Russian state television. He said just three weeks ago: “By any real measure based on reality, Vladimir Putin is not losing the war in Ukraine. He is winning the war in Ukraine.

All of this begs the question of whether Trump’s nationalist takeover of much of the GOP will create some sort of expanded Putinist axis in the House. As political scientist Francis Fukuyama recently noted, Western democracies are witnessing the development of national political movements that are globally in sync with what might be called a growing right-wing authoritarian International.

This International, as Fukuyama has observed, is aligned to one degree or another with leaders such as Viktor Orban in Hungary, Eric Zemmour and Marine Le Pen in France, and Putin in Russia. And of course there is Trump.

The bloc of Republicans loyal to MAGA in the House is widely expected to grow. And if this translates into opposition to future funding of the Ukrainian conflict, the influence of the MAGA bloc could end up having real geopolitical consequences.

“The Ukrainians are making serious progress and should continue to improve next year,” Murphy told us. “If the Republicans win the House and people start saying they’re done funding Ukraine, that has potentially catastrophic effects on Ukrainian morale and their ability to fight.”

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