The Senate rejected a bill by Josh Hawley to create a new office to oversee aid to Ukraine.
It was the latest GOP divisions showcase on Ukraine.
Many Republicans said they are confident in the Biden administration’s efforts to pursue aid.
The Republican Party’s ongoing division over Ukraine was demonstrated again on Tuesday when the Senate firmly rejected a provision that would have created a new bureau to oversee the billions of dollars in aid the US has expended on the war effort, resulting in what resulted in a one-sided 26-68 edge.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri suggested a execution of its “Special Inspector General for Ukraine Assistance Act” as an amendment to a Bill that would repeal the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Forces (AUMFs) in Iraq.
But while Hawley won over just over 20 other Republicans — mostly conservatives who are also generally suspicious of US support for Ukraine — more establishment-leaning Republicans and defensive hawks voted against the bill, along with nearly all Democrats.
Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and Jon Ossoff of Georgia were the only Democrats supporting the measure, along with Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
Many Republicans argued that installing a new inspector general would have been “double” and generally expressed confidence in the Biden administration’s current oversight.
“We already have a very large-scale spending monitoring operation in Ukraine,” said Senator Mitt Romney of Utah. “We don’t need to add another controller to the controllers we already have.”
In a statement to Insider, a spokesman for the National Security Council said that “we agree that oversight is critical,” but cited the funding Congress is already providing for existing inspectors generals at the State Department, Defense Department and the United States has agency for international development.
‘It’s already (done’
Hawley’s bill would have created an entirely new office of inspector general to oversee the more than $113 billion in aid to Ukraine that Congress has allocated since the Russian invasion began last year.
That’s more money given to Ukraine than any other country combined, according to one Analysis by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
About half of this aid went to the Ukrainian military, while the remainder was a mix of humanitarian assistance, Ukrainian government funding and other purposes. The aid has proved crucial in enabling the country to resist the Russian invasion for more than a year.
The new inspector general, once confirmed by the Senate, should have submitted reports to Congress every three months, detailing how the funds are being used and how the Ukrainian government is complying with anti-corruption measures.
in one Fox News commentaryHawley argued that the current system for tracking aid means there is “no ultimate accountability for monitoring waste, fraud and abuse.”
“Over the past year, our leaders have sent an overwhelming amount of money to Ukraine,” he wrote. “If Congress is concerned with making sure the money is well spent, they should be on the record.”
But other Republicans apparently disagreed.
“Oversight is important, but if we’re already paying for it and it’s already being done, maybe [Hawley’s bill] is kind of double,” said Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, a prominent GOP advocate for supporting Ukraine. “Everything I’ve asked for so far has been provided.”
“I’m going to vote no because I think it’s double and actually going to be wasteful,” said Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. “This is essentially a solution in search of a problem.”
Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, said he commends Hawley for proposing the idea but argued oversight was “already underway.”
“I spoke to you [Ukrainian President Volodymr] Selenskyj himself about it,” said Risch. “He understood that … it’s absolutely imperative that all of these expenses are accounted for.”
Hawley’s bill won over at least one Republican who’s been a vocal supporter of aid to Ukraine: South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.
“I want to convince people that we’re taking this seriously,” Graham said.
“Never the right time”
Some senators expressed support for Hawley’s idea but said they would vote against it anyway because it was an amendment to an unrelated bill.
Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia and Republican Senator Todd Young of Indiana, the key co-sponsors of the underlying AUMF repeal bill, each said they would support Hawley’s idea but would vote against it because they had nothing to do with the legislation have. and they wanted to make sure the bill could still pass the house.
“I don’t think we should make de-authorizing the Iraq war any more difficult with this question,” Kaine said.
“My concern is that if it’s tied to a very tight cancellation effort, it will put off some of our existing supporters,” Young said.
The underlying AUMF repeal law, that is supported by a large bipartisan majority of senators and was backed by the White Houseis expected to pass the Senate on Wednesday.
His future in the House of Representatives remains uncertain, but House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he expects the bill to go through the chamber’s committee process before reaching the floor for a vote.
When asked about the objection that the amendment is unrelated, Hawley laughed.
“It’s never the right time for those who don’t want to do anything,” Hawley said.
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