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U.S. finally passes Ukraine aid bill But six months of political wrangling must now be overcome with quick and resolute action

May 2, 2024 | Editorials, Featured

Marco Levytsky, Editorial Writer.

After six months of bitter political wrangling, on April 20th, the U.S. House of Representatives finally passed a bill authorizing $61 billion in aid for Ukraine by a vote of 311 to 112. Supporting it were 210 Democrats and 101 Republicans. All 112 votes against came from Republicans. It passed the Senate three days later by 79 votes to 18. This time 31 Republicans – nine more than had voted for the earlier aid bill on February 13 — joined 48 Democrats while only 15 Republicans voted against. Unlike the House, which broke up a combined package into separate bills for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, the Senate bill combined all three. Thus, two Democrats and Independent Bernie Sanders voted against the bill – not because they opposed military aid for Ukraine, but military assistance to Israel.

President Joe Biden wasted no time signing the bill into law the morning after the late-night Senate vote. Moments later, the Pentagon announced an immediate $1 billion military aid package for Ukraine that includes air defence missiles, ammunition to shoot down drones, artillery shells, armoured vehicles, and other equipment. “It’s a good day for America, it’s a good day for Europe, and it’s a good day for world peace,” Biden said. “For real. This is consequential.”

It could not have come any sooner. While Congress played political football with this bill, Russia was able to massively build up its strength along the frontline. It has mobilized almost half a million troops and outguns Ukraine 10-1 in terms of ammunition. Ukrainian forces must make the painful choice of using air defences to intercept Russian missiles targeting Ukrainian cities and infrastructure or defend against Russian bombers killing its soldiers. This has allowed Moscow to make incremental territorial gains and prepare for a major offensive in late Spring or early Summer.

“The aid is coming way too late, as materiel shortages resulted in Ukraine losing the initiative in October 2023,” Kateryna Stepanenko, a Russia analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, told Reuters on April 22. Stepanenko added that Ukraine had lost 583 square kilometres of territory to Russian forces since then, mainly due to a lack of artillery ammunition.

Much as House Speaker Mike Johnson must take responsibility for all the lives and property lost during the six-month delay, he must also be credited for turning around and getting this bill passed through the House of Representatives despite the guerilla tactics of his far-right faction. Much of this is due to the intervention of Ukrainian Evangelicals, fellow Christian leaders, and his faith. He “went through a transformation,” according to one GOP colleague, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Michael McCaul. “He knelt, prayed for guidance, and said, ‘Look, tell me. What is the right thing to do here?’”

The conflict over Ukraine aid has exposed a wide rift within the Republican Party between the pro-Trump neo-isolationist MAGA bloc and what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell termed the “Reagan Republicans” — those who stand up for democratic values around the world and recognize the threat to global security posed by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Although more than twice as many Senate Republicans voted for the bill as those who voted against it, a slim majority of the Republican House caucus opposed it. One of the worst offenders in this group was Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (aka Moscow Marge), who has publicly claimed that Ukraine is conducting a war on Christianity and killing priests while Vladimir Putin is defending religion. Really? What planet is she on? Could it be the same one that is firing those Jewish space lasers she claims are causing wildfires in California? Her rants and raves have become so outrageous that even her MAGA colleagues are beginning to distance themselves from her. The only good thing about Moscow Marge is that we’re glad she’s not Ukrainian.

But that is not the case with Indiana MAGA Victoria Spartz. Born Victoria Kulheyko in what is now Nosivka, Chernihiv Oblast, in 1978, she moved to the United States when she married her husband Jason Spartz in 2000. Spartz was appointed to the Indiana State Senate in 2017 and won the state’s 5th Congressional District in 2020. In the runup to the April 20 vote, she proposed several amendments to reduce the aid to Ukraine and to ensure that any loans would not be forgiven. This is even though only three days earlier, Russia launched a missile strike on Chernihiv, where her family lived, killing 18 civilians and injuring 78. Her motivation for voting against the $61 billion aid package to Ukraine? Re-election as a MAGA Republican with even more brazen anti-Ukrainian credentials than her main challenger in the upcoming GOP primary for her legislative district. For this, Spartz deserves to be placed in the annals of history among the many contemptible traitors who have sold out their homeland to the ruthless enemy invaders for their own personal gain.

While we can be grateful that the U.S. aid will finally arrive, we must remember that U.S. support for Ukraine remains fragile as long as the threat of a Trump Presidency hangs over our heads. That means that Canada and the European Union must increase their weapons production during the next few months to be prepared for that possibility. And the ultimate objective must be clarified once and for all. Any negotiated settlement that rewards Russia for its aggression cannot be considered. The only road to global security is a victory for Ukraine.

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