House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has defended his statement on Ukraine military aid if the GOP takes back the House in the midterm elections.
McCarthy stressed that he aims for more oversight into the aid to the war-torn country rather than pulling the plug on Ukraine’s military aid.
“I think Ukraine is very important. I support making sure that we move forward to defeat Russia in that program. But there should be no blank check on anything. We are $31 trillion in debt,” McCarthy said on CNBC on Oct. 19.
His comments came after his statement of no “blank check” for Ukraine if the GOP gains a majority in the House made headlines the day before.
“It’s amazing to me that that somehow made news,” McCarthy commented, referring to what he said in an interview with Punchbowl News.
“I think people are gonna be sitting in a recession and they’re not going to write a blank check to Ukraine,” McCarthy told Punchbowl News on Oct. 18. “They just won’t do it. … It’s not a free blank check.”
The Californian lawmaker clarified his remarks in the CNBC interview.
“Wouldn’t you want a check and balance in Congress? Wouldn’t you want this hardworking taxpayers’ money, someone overseeing it? We’ve got to eliminate the wasteful spending in Washington,” he said.
He further referred to the vacillations of President Joe Biden on providing military assistance to Ukraine when he was then-Vice President in 2015.
McCarthy back then suggested Biden sell Javelin missiles to the country to defend itself against Russia.
“In response, Biden told me that Germany wouldn’t like that,” McCarthy recalled.
“I then advocated that, well, why don’t we train them on the Javelins and keep them in Poland so they can move forward?” he said.
“I believe we could do things smarter, we could be ahead. We could make sure that Russia wouldn’t see weakness going forward and then cost us more money, more lives, more damage. That is what I’m talking about when you talk about no blank check. I believe in accountability,” McCarthy added.
His view echoed that of Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who also called for oversight of the aid.
Referring to McCarthy’s Oct. 18 remark, McCaul told Bloomberg: “I think he’s just saying we’re not going to write a blank check without oversight and accountability, which my committee will be providing.”
“I think there’s still broad bipartisan support for the effort,” he added. “We want to ensure that our NATO partners are stepping up to the plate and bearing the burden of the cost.”
The comments from Republican lawmakers came days after The Department of Defense (DOD) on Oct. 14 announced that the United States will provide $725 million in additional security assistance to Ukraine.
Congress approved some $65 billion in aid to Ukraine this year. The temporary government funding bill approved by lawmakers late September and signed by Biden added an additional $12 billion for military and other assistance for Russia’s neighbor.
Meanwhile, The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Oct. 13 that annual inflation in the United States in September was running at 8.2 percent, down slightly from August’s pace of 8.3 percent.
McCarthy claimed that the Biden administration’s disregard for domestic concerns the GOP views as priorities, such as securing the US southern border, prompted the intention to dial down the aid to Ukraine.
“People begin to weigh that,” he told Punchbowl News. “Ukraine is important, but at the same time it can’t be the only thing they do and it can’t be a blank check.”
Support of assistance to Ukraine gained bipartisan consent when the war broke out. But the voice of opposition has surged as the war drags on and amid reports emerge that the American economy is poised to fall deep into recession in the coming time.
Republican lawmakers have questioned the need for federal spending abroad at a time of record-high inflation at home.
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) said last month that Biden “needs to understand that we are the USA not the US-ATM.”