Determined to project strong bipartisan support for Kyiv, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, worked for days leading up to the vote to tamp down on the anti-interventionist strain in his party, arguing that the United States needed to aid a young democracy standing between Russian aggression and the Western world.
“Anyone concerned about the cost of supporting a Ukrainian victory should consider the much larger cost should Ukraine lose,” Mr. McConnell said on Thursday in a speech from the Senate floor. “In Europe, close allies and trading relationships would suddenly be hundreds of miles closer to the territory of an aggressive, emboldened autocrat. Our own security requirements on the continent would grow substantially, and adversaries on the other side of the world would be tempted to follow Russia’s lead.”
Most of the Republicans regarded as presidential prospects in 2024 — Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Tim Scott of South Carolina, and Marco Rubio of Florida — backed the legislation even in the face of opposition from right-wing organizations.
In a 24-minute speech on the Senate floor, announcing his vote on Wednesday night, Mr. Cruz said he had carefully listened to a litany of arguments against the aid bill, including that it was too expensive and bloated with provisions unrelated to military aid, and that it was not in America’s security interest to counter Russia’s campaign when there were so many domestic problems at home.
But he had come to the conclusion, he said, that the assistance was worth supporting.
“There’s no doubt $40 billion is a large number, and although much of that spending is important — in fact, some of it is acutely needed in the military conflict — I would have preferred a significantly smaller and more focused bill,” Mr. Cruz said. “But our Ukrainian allies right now are winning significant victories with the weapons and training that we provided them already, and it is in our national interest for them to keep doing so.”
In the end, fewer than a dozen Republicans, including Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, who is also regarded as a presidential contender, voted no. They cited concerns about sending billions of dollars abroad as the United States struggles with economic challenges of its own.
Russia-Ukraine War: Key Developments
U.S. aid. The Senate overwhelmingly approved a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine, bringing the total American investment in the war to $54 billion in just over two months. The measure is the latest proof of the bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for helping Ukraine fight Russia.
“Spending $40 billion on Ukraine aid — more than three times what all of Europe has spent combined — is not in America’s interests,” Mr. Hawley wrote on Twitter. “It neglects priorities at home (the border), allows Europe to freeload, short changes critical interests abroad and comes w/ no meaningful oversight.”