McConnell increases pressure on Johnson over Ukraine: “Complete the mission”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday again pressed House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) to adopt the Senate-passed national security spending package, which includes $60 billion for Ukraine, despite Johnson's letter to GOP senators this week that he is moving in a different direction.

McConnell has shown little interest in waiting weeks or perhaps months for the House to come up with an alternative proposal to aid Ukraine.

“The shocking truth here is abundantly clear: withholding important weapons has not helped matters [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's escalation. McConnell warned on the Senate floor that this only emboldened him.

This alternative proposal appears to focus on creating a loan program, lending or leasing an estimated $300 billion in Russian assets to pay for arming Ukrainian forces.

“Equipping Ukraine for battlefield success is the surest way to help our friends resolve this war from a position of strength,” McConnell said. “Investing in our military and our defense industrial capabilities at the same time makes sense.

“It is time for the House to take up the Senate-passed National Security Annex and get the job done,” he declared.

McConnell's comments came a day after Johnson told Republican senators at the annual Senate GOP meeting that he would send a Ukraine aid package to the Senate, but it would look much different than the $95 billion emergency foreign aid bill that senators passed last month.

Johnson has floated the idea of ​​creating a loan or lending program for Ukraine and seizing Russian assets to pay for arming Ukrainian forces on the battlefield, but developing a completely new bill could take weeks or months.

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Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), vice chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, seemed skeptical about creating a loan program for Ukraine rather than sending direct military aid.

“I will consider whatever option is put forward there. I think the loan would impose an additional burden on Ukraine at the moment at a time when it doesn't need it, but if that's what it takes to get aid out, I would be willing to consider it,” Collins said after Johnson's comments to Reuters. “That.” Republican Senators.

McConnell warned on Tuesday that making major changes to the Senate-passed bill to fund Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific region could delay it by weeks.

“I want to encourage the Speaker again to allow the vote, the vote. Let the House talk about the annex we sent them several weeks ago.”

McConnell has poured water on the idea of ​​turning aid to Ukraine into a loan program.

“The only way to provide relief to Ukrainians and Israelis quickly is for the House to think about how to pass the Senate bill. “Anything that gets changed and brought back here…even the simplest thing can take a week in the Senate,” he said.

“We don’t have time for all this. We got a bill that got 70 votes in the Senate. Give the House members the opportunity to vote on it. This is the solution.”

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