Congress returns with focus on Ukraine aid

WASHINGTON – The war in Ukraine is beginning to enter a new phase; a period when difficult winter conditions are expected to test the morale of Russian and Ukrainian forces.

Here in the United States, Congress is also entering a new phase with more lawmakers questioning how much money should be allocated to this war.

DEBATE ABOUT FUNDING

The debate over how much to give Ukraine for the war is expected to be part of an intense lame-duck phase of Congress in December.

So far, American taxpayers have spent $54 billion on the war in Ukraine.

For comparison, that’s about one-eighth the cost of President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. However, there is a problem. Money for Ukraine is running out.

As a result, the White House has asked Congress to approve an additional $37 billion.

That would bring the total price to about $91 billion, or about a tenth the amount of this massive infrastructure bill last year.

However, there are questions on Capitol Hill about whether Congress will approve any major new funding proposals, especially in the New Year.

That’s because more conservatives — who will soon have more influence in the House of Representatives — are questioning the amounts more publicly.

“Ukraine is a young democracy; we send American taxpayer money there without oversight,” Rep. Barry Moore, a Republican from Alabama, said at a recent news conference.

“When did Ukraine become the 51st state,” said Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, a Republican from Georgia.

With the Republicans retaking the House of Representatives in January, there will be intense funding debates on the issue.

Even Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said in a recent interview: “There shouldn’t be a blank check.”

All of this puts pressure on the current Congress to fund the war substantially before January.

Democratic leaders have denied money was wasted.

For Americans in Ukraine on humanitarian missions, like Adam Eidinger, they say it’s imperative that Americans know the aid is appreciated and shouldn’t be stopped.

“Morale is extremely high here,” Eidinger said recently during a trip from Ukraine via zoom.

“You’re getting more and more confident,” added Eidinger. “This winter will be tough though – many people will die this winter if heating and electricity go out.”

Expect debates over aid to Ukraine to intensify as Congress seeks to fund the government through Dec. 16 to avoid a shutdown.

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