Mitch McConnell tells GOP skeptics of more Ukraine aid to stop 'dreaming about America's retreat'

Mitch McConnell tells GOP skeptics of more Ukraine aid to stop ‘dreaming about America’s retreat’

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell doubled down Monday on his criticism of GOP colleagues who are reluctant to dish out more federal spending for Ukraine in its war against Russia.

The Kentucky Republican argued that providing more money toward combating Russia’s unprovoked aggression is in America’s best interests and integral to confronting China, another key adversary allied with Moscow.

“America is making urgent strides in the race to compete with our biggest adversary — China. In the process, we’re helping degrade Russian military strength and encouraging our allies to buy American and invest in their own defense,” Mr. McConnell said in remarks on the Senate floor. “This is American leadership, and Republicans should be pressing President Biden to show more of it instead of dreaming about America’s retreat.”

Mr. McConnell’s comments came as Congress debates whether to approve more military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine at the same time Washington stares down the barrel of an impending government shutdown. Unless Congress passes a government funding bill in the coming weeks, a shutdown will ensue on Oct. 1.

Support among congressional Republicans and voters to continue writing hefty checks for Ukraine has diminished the longer the war drags on. Skeptics argue the money would be better spent at home or on combating China, an idea Mr. McConnell rejected.

“Skeptics of American leadership like to hang their hats on the notion that support for Ukraine somehow saps our ability to compete with and deter communist China. This view does not hold up to serious scrutiny,” he said. “The patina of hawkishness on China is too often just a mask, a mask for isolationism. If critics of U.S. support for Ukraine disparage the principle that we should oppose adversaries who invade and destroy Western-aligned neighbors, how credible is their commitment to defend Taiwan or other allies?”

President Biden has requested an additional $21 billion for Ukraine — on top of the more than $75 billion Congress has previously approved — as part of a broader emergency supplemental spending package.

Mr. McConnell insisted that Republicans opposed to more Ukraine spending have falsely boiled down the ongoing debate to be “about abstract principles or philanthropy.” He said there was “nothing neoconservative about support for Ukraine.”

“The United States isn’t arming Ukraine out of its sense of charity. We’re backing a fellow democracy because it is in our direct interest to do so,” Mr. McConnell said. “If we fail to help Ukraine stop Russia in its tracks, there’s every reason to believe Russia and China will both be emboldened.”