House Speaker Battle Could Upend Ukraine Aid

House Speaker Battle Could Upend Ukraine Aid
(Left) Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images); (Right) Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.). (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
Ryan Morgan

The selection of the next speaker of the House could be a key factor in future rounds of U.S. support for Ukraine.

The House is preparing to select a new speaker after eight Republicans and 208 Democrats voted to oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from the position on Oct. 3. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) have already begun speakership bids. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who led the effort to oust Mr. McCarthy, has indicated that Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) could also be a contender for the speakership.

“The most pressing issue on Americans’ minds is not Ukraine,” Mr. Jordan told reporters on Capitol Hill on Oct. 4. “It is the border situation and it is crime on the streets.”

NTD News, a sister news outlet to The Epoch Times, reached out to Mr. Jordan’s office for further comment on Ukraine but didn’t receive a response by press time.

A spokesperson for Mr. Jordan’s office did tell Axios that the congressman wants more details about where U.S. aid spending for Ukraine has gone and what the end goal is for U.S. support in Ukraine.
Those comments are in line with a letter that 22 Republican House members and six Republican senators sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget indicating they would oppose additional aid for Ukraine without more details about where the funding has gone. Those 28 Republican lawmakers asked the Biden administration what progress Ukrainian forces have seen in the past six months of fighting and what the administration would define as victory in Ukraine.
Mr. Hern, who hasn’t announced a bid for the speakership, recently announced his opposition to additional U.S. spending for Ukraine, writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, “We need peace in Ukraine NOW! Not war!”

Democrats More United on Ukraine Aid

Mr. Gaetz cited his disappointment with leadership in recent budget negotiations as the key factor in his ousting Mr. McCarthy from the speakership. Ukraine aid was one of several issues that sharply divided the Republican House majority last week, before Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) to temporarily fund the government and avoid a partial shutdown.
Last week, Mr. Jordan, Mr. Hern, and 115 other House Republicans voted against sending another $300 million in aid to Ukraine. One hundred and one House Republicans, including Mr. Scalise, joined 210 Democrats who voted in favor of the aid package, passing it by a vote of 311–117.

The $300 million aid package was ultimately kept out of the CR.

Although House Republicans are split on the issue, Democrats in both the House and Senate are largely aligned with the Biden administration’s calls for continued support for Ukraine. Democrats hold the Senate majority, and there appears to be enough Republican support in both chambers to pass additional rounds of Ukraine-related spending that come up for a vote.

“There’s strong bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate for aid to Ukraine,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told NTD News on Oct. 4.

Mr. Schumer signaled that House Republicans opposed to Ukraine aid may also find themselves at odds with their fellow Republicans in the Senate. The New York Democrat said he and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) both favor additional Ukraine aid and that they’re “going to work together to get a big package done.”

Although there may be enough bipartisan support to pass additional rounds of Ukraine-related funding, the House speakership contest could still slow such legislation. The speaker has a degree of control over the legislative agenda in the House.

Biden’s Case for More Aid

Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) was among the House Republicans who voted for the $300 million in new Ukraine aid last week. Despite his own support for Ukraine aid, Mr. Armstrong argued that the Biden administration needs to do a better job convincing lawmakers to support it.

“People have had enough over here. They want to hear a plan. They want to hear a message. They want to understand what we’re doing. And there’s a case to be made. Go make the case,” Mr. Armstrong said.

At a White House press event on Oct. 4, President Joe Biden said he is worried that divisions in Congress could prevent his administration from delivering the support he’s pledged to Ukraine, but he also noted significant bipartisan support in Congress.

“I’m going to be announcing very shortly a major speech I’m going to make on this issue, and why it’s critically important for the United States and our allies that we keep our commitment,” President Biden said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.