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Johnson’s new push for Ukraine aid faces divided response from House, Senate Republicans

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declared that he’s committed to opposing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for the remainder of his term, and House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., has pitched a novel approach to continue funding the war effort — but Republican holdouts in both chambers may still derail the efforts of leadership to secure a new aid package.

‘We’re funding what appears to be yet another forever war that will bankrupt future generations — all while disregarding our own security as our southern border remains open,’ Rep. Eli Crane, R-Ariz., told Fox News Digital. ‘It’s absurd that overnighting more tax dollars to Ukraine is even a consideration. It should be totally off the table and replaced with a push for peace talks.’

Johnson revealed his intent to take action on Ukraine aid soon after lawmakers return to Washington next week during an appearance on Fox News Channel on Sunday night. It’s been a hot-button issue for conservatives, but he suggested a plan that diverges significantly from the Senate-passed $95 billion package with aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.

One potential piece of the House’s forthcoming effort to provide resources to Ukraine is the Rebuilding Economic Prosperity and Opportunity (REPO) for Ukrainians Act. This measure would have the U.S. liquidate seized Russian assets and re-purpose those funds as more assistance for Ukraine.

According to Johnson, this option is one of several possible alternatives that ‘we should do that make more sense and I think we’ll have consensus around.’

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., praised the plan on Monday night, posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he is ‘Encouraged to hear that Speaker Johnson will take up Ukraine aid when Congress reconvenes next week.’

‘This proposal or something similar, when combined with border security, would be a winning package for all concerned,’ he said of the potential components of a package spearheaded by Johnson, which could also include aid in the form of a loan to the country, as well as taking steps to decrease reliance on foreign sources for energy.

It’s unclear if Johnson’s plan for Ukraine would be attached to U.S. border security measures. Fox News Digital reached out to the speaker’s office for clarification.

Congressional Republicans killed a $118 billion package with aid for Ukraine, Taiwan, Israel and the U.S. border earlier this year, arguing it did not go far enough to tackle the ongoing border crisis. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and President Biden have been pressuring Johnson to take up the slimmer $95 billion package without border measures.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a staunch supporter of assistance to Ukraine, did not provide comment regarding the various potential routes being eyed by House Republicans. A spokesperson reiterated that McConnell’s primary focus is getting aid to Ukraine in the quickest fashion possible. 

In a Monday radio interview in Kentucky, McConnell said he plans to ‘put the main part of my focus in the coming years’ on supporting Ukraine and pushing back against Russia’s advances. He further claimed he would continue to fight ‘isolationist’ tendencies in his party, which have become increasingly popular among his Republican Senate colleagues. 

A spokesperson for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Ranking Member James Risch, R-Idaho, said in a statement, ‘Senator Risch has had numerous conversations with his colleagues about what should be in the supplemental, like his REPO bill to seize Russian sovereign assets.’

‘He looks forward to reviewing all the changes Speaker Johnson makes and what passes the House,’ the spokesperson continued. 

A House Foreign Affairs Committee aide told Fox News Digital that Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, hopes a ‘strong version’ of the REPO Act, which he helped introduce in the House, is part of the final package.

Other Republicans were more hesitant to discuss specifics without a firm plan in place, and it’s clear that the issue is still driving a wedge through the GOP.

‘Speaker Johnson has said that a targeted bill to help Ukraine’s defense will come to the floor once we get back from recess, and I will hold him to it,’ Rep. Young Kim, R-Calif., told Fox News Digital. ‘Failure to support Ukraine plays right into the hands of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran.’

Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., said, ‘We need to ensure that Ukraine has the weapons they need to win, and that Biden enforces sanctions on Putin.’

However, a number of Republicans remained skeptical of bringing any measure to address Ukraine aid to the floor. 

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Good, R-Va.,  told Fox News Digital, ‘America’s security must be our top priority. We cannot continue to borrow and spend money we don’t have for wars overseas while failing to protect Americans from the Biden border invasion here at home. At a bare minimum, any package for military aid to Ukraine should be fully offset and must include H.R.2 with performance metrics to secure our own border.’

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, slammed the facilitation of ‘an intractable, bloody proxy war,’ citing the concerns playing out on America’s southern border. ‘We must keep our promise to the American people and secure our borders, first and foremost,’ he added. 

According to Lee’s office, the senator considers these alternate Ukraine measures to be gimmicks that don’t address the war’s continuing with no end in sight. The liquidation of Russian assets and assistance being offered as a loan are tactics of misdirection that aren’t likely to offset spending or be recouped in the long run, his office said.

‘Regardless of how Johnson tries to mask more aid to Ukraine, it’s still more aid to Ukraine,’ Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., told Fox News Digital in a statement. ‘And it’s an insult to Missouri taxpayers that the House wants to give Ukraine oligarchs more money before they renew RECA and give radiation victims in Missouri and across the U.S. the compensation they deserve. We should put Americans first, not Ukraine.’

Several offices in both chambers are holding out on addressing the potential components of a House Ukraine package until they become more official. 

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS

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