The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee said Monday that talk about GOP opposition to military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine is overblown.
Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, argued that the problem for many GOP lawmakers was not aiding Ukraine in its hour of need, but rather the expensive way Democrats have done so in recent months.
“No one in Republican leadership has called for an end to aid for Ukraine,” said Turner. “People on the Republican side are saying, ‘Why do we have to pass a $40 billion package to send $8 billion to Ukraine?’”
Turner said House Republicans are eager to reassert fiscal responsibility over the federal government’s efforts to bolster Ukraine. He said Republicans are worried about the different ways military and humanitarian assistance are being delivered.
“When we passed our bills for military aid and humanitarian aid, we sent military aid [directly] to Ukraine,” he said. “We sent humanitarian aid to the United Nations, [which is] horrific in getting aid actually into the country.”
Turner said the U.N. sought to establish its own transportation lines for delivering assistance to Ukraine. The global agency also reportedly wanted to confirm humanitarian aid was only going to eligible people at a time when the country is being torn apart by war.
Those moves, GOP lawmakers say, delayed food and other resources from reaching areas of Ukraine that needed them most. Turner said sensitivities about Russia, which holds a permanent seat on the U.N. security council, was also a likely contributor to the bureaucratic delays.
“Because Russia is obviously a very important member of the United Nations, the humanitarian aid does not move at the speed that it should,” Turner said.
Turner’s comments came after a trip to Ukraine last week with Republicans and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee. During the visit, the lawmakers met directly with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The trip came in the wake of statements from some lawmakers who suggested a Republican Congress would be more hesitant to approve large-scale military and financial aid to Ukraine.
“I think people are going to be sitting in a recession, and they’re not going to write a blank check to Ukraine,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told Punchbowl News last week.
Democrats cited those comments as a sign that Republicans were preparing to abandon Ukraine as it continues to fight off a Russian invasion.
“You either stand for freedom or you bow to [Russian President] Vladimir Putin,” said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. “Minority Leader McCarthy is making it clear where the GOP stands.”
Turner dismissed the claims, noting that McCarthy and most Republicans have voted to provide weapons to Ukraine. He also claimed that Zelenskyy was aware of the nuance in the GOP’s position.
“He hears of these massive, bloated bills that are being passed in the United States,” said Turner. “And he’s very aware of the small portion, overall, that actually ends up in Ukraine… the concern is, and I used these words with him, ‘how many U.S. dollars do we have to spend to get a dollar to you.’”