President Biden on Thursday is expected to ask Congress for billions of dollars of additional funding for Ukraine’s defense, a move that will lead to drama in the fall given heavy GOP opposition to the unchecked war funding seen under Biden over the last 18 months.
“It’s definitely a very big point of contention,” a senior House GOP aide told Fox News Digital.
While there’s broad support for supplemental Ukraine aid in the Senate, it will be an uphill battle in the House, where Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., promised his narrow majority that he would not bring a supplemental Ukraine funding bill to the floor. Many conservatives, still bristling from McCarthy’s debt limit deal with President Biden, have been vocally opposed to giving Kyiv more money without more accountability.
“He can go with Democrats, but then the speaker puts himself in a tough spot if he chooses to do that,” the aide said.
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Last month, 70 House Republicans voted for an amendment in the annual defense bill that would cut off all funding to Ukraine, which has been defending itself against a Russian invasion for a year and a half.
The senior aide said they expect the supplemental request to be tied to a request for U.S. disaster relief funding, which could draw out some hesitant GOP votes. They also anticipated the likely funding for Ukraine to be between $13 billion and $18 billion, a smaller sum compared to the roughly $43 billion given by the U.S. so far. The White House did not respond to an inquiry confirming those details on Wednesday.
“It won’t be $40 billion [in total]. If it is, I think that that is definitely [dead on arrival]. But they might be able to squeak through to a smaller one,” the senior GOP aide said.
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But wary conservatives who have wielded outsized power in the House GOP conference are already coming out against the expected announcement.
“We can’t continue shoveling money out the door to support this conflict with no accountability or transparency,” Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., a member of the House Freedom Caucus, told Fox News Digital. “There are no strings attached and no plans to even define what victory looks like. Americans have had enough of Washington running headlong into endless wars.”
Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., accused Biden of having misaligned priorities and indicated he would not support additional funding.
“Americans are struggling under ‘Bidenomics,’ watching a border invasion bring crime … and witnessing a corrupt two-tiered justice system, and this President wants billions more [funds] for Ukraine. Put Americans first,” Good said in a statement online.
A second House GOP aide told Fox News Digital, “I don’t think there’s a lot of appetite for additional Ukraine funding right now.”
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Even Republicans who have supported Ukraine aid in the past are cautious. Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., told Fox News Digital on Wednesday night, “I want the details of any supplemental funding request before I make a decision … Ukraine’s independence is in our national security interest, and I want to do what we feasibly can do, but I have no idea what the president is requesting.”
The House returns from its six-week August recess on Sept. 12, at which point McCarthy will have less than a month to pass the remaining 11 of his 12 promised spending bills before Sept. 30. If Congress fails to act on spending before the fiscal year ends, the government could risk a partial shutdown.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., told reporters this week that attaching supplemental Ukraine aide to a continuing resolution for federal spending is a possibility.
A continuing resolution would simply extend the current spending priorities for a certain amount of time. Republicans across the spectrum have opposed that option, calling it an extension of the Democrat policies of the last Congress.
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“I think people were mad enough at him about the deal that he cut with the White House on the spending,” the senior GOP aide said of McCarthy. “Like, those conference meetings were intense after that – on both sides, you had the folks that were supportive of McCarthy angry at the people that weren’t and vice versa. I think it just gets worse if he decides to wrap it up into a [continuing resolution].”
“The only way that happens and it’s not DOA is if McCarthy is like, ‘Look, I’m just going to pass it with Dems. And then I think you have a motion to vacate the chair pretty quick, personally,” they said, referring to the option of calling up a vote to kick McCarthy out of the job and find a new speaker.
Fox News Digital reached out to McCarthy’s office for his reaction to Biden’s expected request but did not hear back.