US border more important than Ukraine – Republican leader
House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy said in an interview with CBS on Sunday that while he remains committed to helping Ukraine throughout its conflict with Russia, addressing the United States’ border security issues should be a bigger priority for US lawmakers.
“The priority for me is America and our borders,” McCarthy, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, said on CBS’ ‘Face the Nation’ on Sunday. “Now, I support being able to make sure Ukraine has the weapons they need, but I firmly support [America’s] border first.”
McCarthy was speaking just hours after a last-minute budget deal was struck by Congress late on Saturday to prevent what would have been a costly and disruptive shutdown of the US federal government.
The stopgap, which funds the government until mid-November, did not include $6 billion in additional military aid for Ukraine requested by the White House, as dissent swirls amongst hardline Republicans regarding President Joe Biden’s support for Kiev throughout its conflict with Moscow.
A number of senior Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have been supportive of methods designed to continue funding Ukraine. Senate Republicans, many of whom are divided over the issue, agreed to support McCarthy’s budget legislation.
However, when asked by CBS about the White House’s position that it does not presently have adequate funds to provide Kiev with sufficient weaponry, McCarthy insisted that securing America’s own interests – such as its southern border – must come first.
“[The White House] has more than $3 billion right now to help them to get through it,” McCarthy said. “If they have some challenge, we can sit down and we can talk about that.”
He added that “the American border matters and more Americans are dying on our border than Americans are dying in Ukraine” and suggested that future financial packages for Ukraine must contain provisions to ensure American border security.
“We will work with people in need,” McCarthy stated. “But the one thing the White House has to understand [is] they better be prepared to secure the border.”
Washington has supplied Ukraine with approximately $46 billion in military aid since the beginning of Moscow’s offensive in the country in February 2022. President Biden has requested that Congress greenlight another $24 billion in aid. Equipment recently sent by the US to Kiev includes long-range missiles and state-of-the-art Abrams tanks.