Yesterday, the Senate voted again on a motion to proceed with the debate on the $40 billion Ukraine aid package. It passed overwhelmingly, 88-11. The 11 were all from the Putin wing of the Republican Party-- Rand Paul (KY), Josh Hawley (MO), Mike Lee (UT), Masha Blackburn (TN), Roger Marshall (KS), Tommy Tuberville (AL), Cynthia Lummis (WY), John Boozman (AR), Mike Braun (IN), Mike Crapo (ID) and Bill Hagerty (TN). When the bill passed the House, there were 56 Republican extremists who voted against it. You know the crew... Cawthorn, Traitor Greene, Boebert, Gosar, Perry, Gohmert, Biggs, Van Duyne, Hice, Rosendale, Gaetz... all the nuts.
All the other Republicans voted yes, but McConnell has a problem with the isolationists in the party, especially with Trump backing them. Politico took a look at how the GOP establishment is trying to deal with the rip before it gets out of hand and turns into a full-fledged MAGA talking point.
"That tension," wrote Andrew Desiderio, "is putting the sprawling aid package, which is set to clear the Senate later this week, at the center of the ongoing battle to define the modern GOP. Much of the party, from the rank and file all the way up to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is forcefully rejecting the MAGA wing’s opposition to the aid as misguided. Yet the nationalist camp, determined to create a questionable either-or choice between foreign assistance and help for Americans in need, is growing ever larger and louder. And senior Republicans are taking on their colleagues more openly, defending the $40 billion aid package at a critical time for Ukraine’s war effort. 'I don’t know what their alternative is. We’ve seen world wars started over less than what is happening in Europe,' said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who just returned from a swing through eastern Europe that included a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv. 'Even though it’s a lot of money, it’s a small investment relative to a world war.'"
Out on the campaign trail, the Trump-backed candidates are all slamming the aid package as a talking point. "Trump-aligned potential 2024 presidential candidates were split on the vote," wrote Desiderio, "but a majority of them-- including Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rick Scott and Tom Cotton-- rejected the former president’s position." The MAGA lawmakers and candidates are whining that the money should be used to build a wall at teh southern border and handle the baby formula shortages.
McConnell addressed what he called the “isolationist” group head-on, saying the bill is “not some handout,” but rather “squarely” in our national security interest. Some have gone further, with the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s top Republican, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, saying a vote against the $40 billion aid package “is a vote for Putin.”
The far-right has responded in kind. Fox News host Tucker Carlson criticized Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) in sharply personal terms Monday night for Crenshaw’s criticism of fellow Republicans who oppose Ukraine aid. And Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has chided McConnell for leading the congressional delegation to Kyiv.
Kathy Barnette, who has gained steam in the Pennsylvania GOP Senate primary taking place on Tuesday, similarly went after McConnell with an “America First” argument.
“Why is Leader McConnell visiting Ukraine in the midst of the various crises right here in America?” she wrote on Twitter. “I believe it’s time to get elected officials in office who will put AMERICA FIRST... and that’s what I will do!”