The House Rules Committee called a meeting at the last minute to remove from the Defense Department’s appropriations bill funding for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which aims to train Ukrainian soldiers and buy weapons. The committee approved its consideration as a separate bill, The Hill reports. In his speech, Rep. Thomas Massie said that many Americans “want to be able to fund our soldiers without sending money to Ukraine.”
However, the ultraconservatives’ proposal was opposed by Republican leaders. “For many members and their constituents, voting on Ukraine funding is a matter of conscience. Removing these funds from the appropriations process will allow those for whom it is a matter of conscience to vote to support our troops, and will also allow all members of the House to vote to provide funding to Ukraine,” said House Committee Chairman Tom Cole.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters last Friday that he would remove Ukraine funding from the spending bill after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene voted against advancing the legislation because of its Ukraine funding provisions. However, the next day, McCarthy backtracked and said aid to Ukraine would remain in the bill, acknowledging that another appropriations bill to be introduced this week (funding the State Department and foreign operations ) would also include money for Ukraine. According to him, if this measure is abandoned it will be more difficult to allocate money to Ukraine. That left Greene as the only Republican who opposed moving forward with the two-bill package.
As a result, only 93 House members supported the amendment and 339 voted against it. And earlier on Wednesday, the House also overwhelmingly rejected Rep. Andy Biggs’ amendment to exclude the same $300 million in funding for Ukraine, with 117 House Republicans joining Democrats in rejecting it. The conservative Republicans’ proposals have drawn criticism from Democrats. “Why go through this Kabuki theater… when you know damn well you’re going to lose this vote,” said Democrat Joe Neguse. “Mr. Speaker (McCarthy), I have to be honest with you: This is a somewhat absurd meeting,” said Jim McGovern, ranking member of the House Rules Committee. “To say this place is a Republican-controlled clown show is a disservice to the real clowns,” McGovern later added.
Any defense spending bill passed by the House must be amended and approved by the Senate to become law.