Senate Republicans Walk Out of Heated Briefing Threatens to Derail Aid to Ukraine

Foreign Affairs

Washington: Republican Senators Deb Fischer and Mitt Romney walked side by side as they hastily left the Biden administration’s classified briefing on a massive defence spending package that includes Ukraine and Israel aid, both visibly agitated.

Fischer of Nebraska and Romney of Utah were among numerous Republicans to exit the briefing early. By their account, administration officials did not provide answers to their questions on Ukraine beyond what’s publicly available in unclassified public reports, compounding their frustration with Democrats for refusing to meet their demands for immigration policy changes in the legislation.

The unrelated partisan fight over immigration policy threatens to derail the roughly $113 billion package that also includes funding for the US southern border and Indo-Pacific security partners, all while the Biden administration rapidly runs out of the little remaining Ukraine aid.

It raises serious questions about whether Congress will continue providing aid to Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion despite previous Senate Republican support for a  bipartisan defence supplemental package.

“We’ve had it,” Fischer said. “When you have Deb Fischer who’s upset about this, they better be worried. Because I have backed everything.”

Fischer, who sits on the Armed Services and Appropriations committees, has championed aid to Kyiv despite mounting House Republican opposition. She vented to reporters about her misgivings following the briefing — some of which extended beyond the immigration debate and marked Ukraine policy grievances set in motion months ago.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was expected to address senators at the briefing via video but had to cancel, though it was unclear why. During a visit to Washington in September, he warned senators that Ukraine will lose the war if foreign assistance does not continue.