By Government Affairs Team, Razom Advocacy
As the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives gets underway for the 118th Congress, a narrative has taken hold that there is a growing partisan divide when it comes to supporting Ukraine. According to this misguided idea, Republicans across the board are raising new roadblocks and have turned against Ukraine, while Democrats want to see Ukraine prevail against the genocidal war currently being waged by Russia.
This narrative is demonstrably incorrect and diminishes a genuine area of bipartisan cooperation in Washington.
While some members of both parties have cast doubt on US policy towards Ukraine, they remain in the small minorities on both sides of the aisle. Certain Members of Congress from each major party have been vocal about their objections to further US support for Ukraine, but they have been far more effective in attracting headlines than the support of their fellow lawmakers.
Over the course of the 117th Congress, our tracking index of 23 key Russia- and Ukraine-related votes in the House of Representatives reveals an overwhelmingly pro-Ukraine voting record for both parties. From legislation to sanction Russia economic actors, to support the victims of Putin’s aggression, and to send aid to Ukraine, the record paints a clear picture. The Republican caucus consistently voted in favor of Ukraine, vastly outvoting the less than 10 percent of House Republicans who regularly voted against these measures.
The bipartisan record of support for Ukraine is even stronger in the Senate. Take, for example, the recent inclusion of $45 billion dollars for Ukraine in December’s Omnibus spending package. The final level of support was $7 billion or 15 percent above what was requested by the Biden Administration. Those additional funds were championed by leaders of both parties and would not have happened if it were not for the specific work of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator James Risch — both Republicans.
Leaders of the Republican party talk the talk as well as walking the walk. In his speech at the Munich Security Conference on February 17, Leader McConnell underscored his party’s commitment: “My party’s leaders overwhelmingly support a strong, involved America and a robust trans-Atlantic alliance. Don’t look at Twitter, look at people in power… We are committed to helping Ukraine.” And in his appearance on Fox News on February 16th, he made the case directly to the American people: “I’m going to try to help explain to the American people that defeating the Russians in Ukraine is the single most important event going on in the world right now.”
Indeed, just in the week of February 13th, two major pro-Ukraine bills have been reintroduced with strong bipartisan support, the Holding Accountable Russian Mercenaries (HARM) Act and the Ukraine Genocide Resolution. These bills are important ways for Congress to aid Ukraine in its fight, by enacting more punitive designations for Russian armed groups and calling out the actions of the aggressors as the genocide they are.
Without a doubt, there is much work to be done in the weeks and months ahead to maintain and expand the bipartisan support for Ukraine in the 118th Congress — especially as new fights on raising the debt ceiling loom large. Yet careful observers should be wary of easy or simplistic narratives that view everything in Washington through a purely partisan lens.
Members on both sides of the aisle — Republican and Democrat — are deeply and demonstrably committed to Ukraine’s victory. While members may differ on specific tactics or details of policy, the genuine support for Ukraine is palpable.
Lone or fringe voices can be loud, but not necessarily convincing. American leaders of both political parties are undertaking great efforts to see that Ukraine is ultimately victorious. And when victory does come, Ukraine will rightly be able to thank Republicans, Democrats, and Independants for the support America provided.