What the US election results mean for the future of aid to Ukraine

It’s a question that is paramount in Washington as the GOP moves closer to winning a majority in the US House of Representatives. Some fear that the end of Democratic control in Congress – and the empowerment of “America First” conservatives – could eventually lead to a cut in American aid while Ukraine fights the Russian invasion.

Recent comments from Kevin McCarthy, who is scheduled to speak if the Republicans win the House of Representatives, have added to those fears. He warned that Republicans would not support issuing a “blank check” to Ukraine if they won the majority.

But the harsh rhetoric is not the end of the story. While Republican control of the House of Representatives is likely to make it more difficult to send tranches of military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, bipartisan support for the country runs deep.

Here’s a look at the factors that play a role:



Since the Russian invasion began in February, Congress has approved tens of billions in emergency security and humanitarian aid for Ukraine. The Biden administration has also shipped billions worth of weapons and equipment from military stockpiles.

In September, lawmakers approved about $12.3 billion in Ukraine-related aid as part of a bill that will fund the federal government through December 16. The money included support for Ukraine’s military, as well as money to help the country’s government provide basic services to its citizens.

That’s on top of more than $50 billion provided in two previous bills.



Financial support for Ukraine has enjoyed strong bipartisan support throughout. In the Senate, GOP leader Mitch McConnell and Richard Shelby, the leading Republican on the powerful Appropriations Committee, spoke out early and consistently in favor of aid to Ukraine.

In recent days, other Republicans, including Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Rick Scott of Florida, have insisted in interviews that their party’s support for Ukrainians is resolute.

“I think we must continue to do everything we can to support Ukraine, which wants to defend its freedom and prevent Russia from expanding any further,” Scott said on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.

Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware also demonstrated bipartisan support by visiting Ukraine days before the election.

“I am confident that strong bipartisan American support for the Ukrainian people’s struggle will continue in Congress,” Coons said. “The United States has long been a nation fighting for freedom, and this is the most important struggle for freedom in the world today.”

The situation is similar in the House of Representatives, where the Ukrainian aid is supported by a majority. Even a letter published last month by the party’s liberal flank urging the Biden administration to start diplomatic talks with Russia over the war was quickly withdrawn after heavy criticism from both sides.

President Joe Biden also tried to allay concerns in a post-election briefing on Wednesday, expressing hope that he could continue his “bipartisan approach” in support of Ukraine. He said he intends to invite congressional leaders from both parties to the White House later this month to discuss how “to advance America’s economic and national security priorities.”



But support for Ukraine is far from universal within the Republican Party.

Some lawmakers on the right, particularly those aligned with Donald Trump’s “America First” philosophy of foreign policy, say the United States cannot afford to give Ukraine billions at a time of record-high domestic inflation.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a member of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, said at a rally of Trump supporters in Iowa last week that “among Republicans, not a penny will go to Ukraine.” In Ohio, Republican JD Vance, who had just won the state Senate race, campaigned to end financial aid to the country, saying Congress must “finally stop the money spigot to Ukraine.”

McCarthy appeared to agree with Ukraine skeptics in his pre-election statements.

“I think people are going to be in a recession and not giving Ukraine a blank check,” McCarthy said in the pre-election interview. “You just won’t do it. … It’s not a free blank check.”

McCarthy later responded to those comments, telling CNN that he was very supportive of Ukraine but felt there “should be accountability going forward.”

Biden stressed that his administration has not acceded to every request by Ukrainians, including their calls for a no-fly zone that could drag America to war.

“We did not write a blank check to Ukraine,” Biden said. “There are many things that Ukraine wants that we haven’t done – we haven’t done them.”



Despite escalating opposition from the right, there is little danger that Congress will end US financial and military support for Ukraine any time soon.

Majorities in the House and Senate support the alliance with Ukraine, saying it’s worth defending a democratic ally and resisting Russian expansion.

According to AP VoteCast, a nationwide poll of more than 94,000 voters, most Americans who voted in the midterm elections stood firmly behind Ukraine’s military and financial support. About 4 in 10 said it was about right and 3 in 10 said it should be more active, while only about 3 in 10 wanted the US to provide Ukraine with less.

However, it is clear that a Republican takeover of the House of Representatives would make it more difficult to pass additional aid to Ukraine. McCarthy is likely to face strong pressure from the right to take a hard line on the Biden administration, making it difficult for him to work with Democrats.

Faced with this reality, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are viewing the post-election lame duck session as an opportunity to secure billions of dollars in additional military aid to Ukraine. That help could be passed in a government funding bill by the end of the year, securing American support for months to come.



Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials are closely monitoring the results of the midterm elections. An official admitted on Wednesday that he had stayed up the night before and kept clicking refresh on his phone to track the results.

But the country’s defense minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, said on Wednesday he doesn’t expect American support to erode.

“I have repeatedly met with representatives of the Senate and Congress, and each time the delegations have been bipartisan,” Resnikov said at a news conference. “I clearly understand that United States support will also remain bipartisan and bicameral.”

Yulia Svyrydenko, Ukraine’s trade and economic development minister, said Thursday that despite US support, the country is stepping up efforts to cut spending even as Ukrainians fight an “existential war.”

Svyrydenko said that while there has been no pressure from American officials on Ukraine to reduce its foreign aid needs, Ukrainian leaders know they must do more to stabilize the economy itself, even as they oppose Russia’s armed forces fight.

At the start of the war, Ukraine had placed great emphasis on quickly mobilizing military aid from its allies, “but we understand that one day we should be very self-reliant again,” she said.


Associated Press writer Ellen Knickmeyer contributed to this report.

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