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McConnell takes on MAGA with visit to Ukraine

GOP leader says US will be there for Ukraine for as long as it takes and there’s ‘broad bipartisan support to help them’ despite 57 tie votes in the House on the package and the unilateral Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) delays legislation in the Senate. Perhaps most importantly, McConnell directly rejects the idea that helping Ukraine comes at the expense of the United States.

“It’s in America’s interest to do this. It’s not a charity that we’re involved with here. It is in our interest to help the Ukrainians as it is in the interest of NATO countries. So it’s not a handout,” McConnell told reporters Sunday in a call after his visit with Zelenskyy. “It’s to prevent this ruthless thug [Vladimir Putin] of the start of a march across Europe. And the first place to arrest him is in Ukraine.

McConnell didn’t stop there: He said the US should be ‘in the front line’ to ratify potential new NATO members Finland and Sweden, wants President Joe Biden to nominate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism and said he hoped “not many members of my party will choose to politicize this issue.

McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made a rare joint demand for a quick vote on the $40 billion aid legislation Thursday, but Paul said no, pushing the legislation into this week. McConnell addressed his disagreement with Paul, whose blockade prevented McConnell from traveling to Ukraine with another congressional victory in hand.

“Well, it’s no secret. Rand and I have a different view of the importance of Americans’ role in the world. So it was not surprising. And it won’t create a problem. We’ll get the job done by Wednesday,” McConnell said. He was accompanied on his journey by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).

Paul is seeking to change the legislation to strengthen oversight, but McConnell said Congress has already addressed this issue in previous legislation: “It’s a good idea. We have already done that.

At least half a dozen Republican senators are expected to oppose the aid bill, according to one Republican senator. And in private meetings, a growing number of GOP senators have questioned various aspects of the request. Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) explained the Senate Conservatives’ view of Ukraine on Fox News Friday: “We don’t want to see them fail, but we have problems here at home.”

It’s unclear when congressional leaders think they’ll have to approve another request for Ukraine – the last $14 billion in aid was sent in March. McConnell conceded the war could “go on forever” and said Zelenskyy’s goal was to secure Ukraine’s borders and “obviously that would mean the Russians have to go back to Russia.”

Politics plays out even more intensely in the Senate races that could make McConnell the majority leader. Nevada GOP nominee Adam Laxalt attacked Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada for failing to reject “this outrageously abhorrent proposal” and the Ohio GOP Senate nominee JD Vance hit out at his Democratic opponent, Rep. Tim Ryan for “pushing billions in foreign aid while the communities he serves in Congress have been decimated”.

Still, for a Republican leader trying to ensure his party doesn’t turn away from the rest of the world, supporting him is a no-brainer. He predicted that would pass relatively easily, signaling that an “overwhelming majority” of Republicans support sending billions and billions more to Ukraine – for now at least.

“It’s important and in America’s best interest to pass it.” Bipartisan support does not imply unanimity. And of course, there will be others who will have a different point of view. That’s how democracy works,” McConnell said.

politico Gt

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