House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) emphasized his dedication to supporting Ukraine on Sunday but highlighted the border crisis as his foremost concern.
“America and our borders come first for me,” McCarthy stated during a CBS’s “Face the Nation” interview with Margaret Brennan when questioned about Ukraine. “I favor ensuring that Ukraine is equipped with necessary weaponry. However, our border is of paramount importance. We need to strategize to address both these issues collaboratively.”
In an intense weekend vote, Congress approved a temporary measure that circumvented a government shutdown. However, Ukraine saw a setback.
An earlier Senate proposal had allocated over $6 billion in assistance for the beleaguered nation. But, in an unexpected move on Saturday, McCarthy introduced a bill that ensured government funding but excluded the aid earmarked for Ukraine.
This decision reflected a segment of House Republicans who have reservations about assisting Ukraine. This stance differs from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republican senators’ priorities. Despite internal differences, the Senate GOP concurred with McCarthy’s proposition.
This ongoing debate has escalated the urgency in Congress to deliver support to Ukraine. However, McCarthy’s comments on Sunday indicated a more pronounced focus on border issues.
In response to the administration’s claims of inadequate funds for Ukraine, McCarthy countered, “They currently have access to over $3 billion to assist their needs. If there are specific issues, we are open to discussion.”
Democratic leaders in the House are urging McCarthy to bring forward a bill for a vote in support of Ukraine.
Highlighting the gravity of the situation at the border, McCarthy added, “The situation at our border is dire, with more Americans losing their lives there than in Ukraine.”
The House approved the “Secure the Border Act,” proposing the continuation of border wall construction, tightening the criteria for asylum, and mandating asylum-seekers to stay in Mexico while their applications are processed. It’s anticipated that Senate Democrats will not back this bill.
When probed about potentially tying Ukraine aid to border security legislation, McCarthy was evident in his stance. “The integrity of our border is non-negotiable,” he stated. “Without a secured border, a substantial aid package for Ukraine is unlikely. Our commitment remains to assist those in need, but the administration must prioritize the security of the American border.”