Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) single-handedly blocked bi-partisan efforts to "swiftly pass" $40 Billion in spending for Ukraine, much to the consternation of Senators Schumer and McConnell. At a minimum, Paul requests special oversight for the aid is put in the bill. He wants to insert language in the bill that would require oversight by the Inspector General. His actions will delay a vote until next week but will probably not stop it from being passed. The House passed the Ukraine spending bill H.R. 7691 by 368 to 57, with only Republicans voting against it. Paul remarked, "that the U.S. cannot save Ukraine by dooming the U.S. economy."
Paul's remarks are notable because he helps put spending in perspective for the American people. Paul is known for his penchant for fiscal responsibility. At the end of every year, he traditionally posts Festivus tweets and writes his own Festivus Report summarizing U.S. spending. Paul is also known for resisting engagement in foreign wars.
Citing inflation, a weak economy, and high gas, food, and vehicle prices, he says spending will potentially deal a crushing blow to the American economy. He explained we would likely have to "borrow money from China" to fund the appropriations. Additionally, he puts the $40 billion (a total of almost $60 billion since 2014) into perspective, especially compared to other historical expenditures. He lays out many data points that would help Americans understand just how massive the total spending is:
- America has already spent $5 trillion on COVID, which contributed to the highest inflation rates in years. It was all borrowed money.
- It is the second spending bill for Ukraine in two months. The first bill authorized $14 billion in spending, meaning the U.S. is now approaching a total of $60 billion for Ukraine.
- The U.S. has authorized more than $6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since 2014.
- With the new spending, "Kiev would become the largest yearly recipient of U.S. Military Aid in the past two decades."
- Except for the five major countries, this expenditure is "more than any other country spends on their entire military expenditures and will equal the entire military budget of Russia."
- The spending "dwarfs" funding for cancer research which is about "$6 million annually."
- It is more than the federal government collects in gas taxes to build roads and bridges.
- It "nearly equals the State Department budget."
Paul goes on to say the U.S. is now saddled with $30 trillion in debt, $1.6 trillion of that which has been spent on wars in the Middle East. He urged his fellow members of Congress to reconsider:
"We should not forget that the Soviet Union collapsed, in large part—not just defeated militarily but because it ran out of money. In an attempt to save Ukraine, we will doom, or will we doom the United States to such a future? In the past two years, the U.S. has borrowed more money than at any time in our history. We are experiencing the greatest rate of inflation in four decades. The assault on monetary discipline is untenable. Unless we put an end to the fiscal insanity, a day of reckoning awaits us. Congress should evaluate the cost of going down this path. We cannot save Ukraine by killing our economic strength."
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that his recent conversation with President Biden reinforces his belief that "we can all agree that the most important thing going on in the world right now is the war in Ukraine."
Citizens For Renewing America (CFRA) published a breakdown summary of the proposed spending.
Included in their assessment was also a copy of Biden's FY2022 Emergency Supplemental Assistance to Ukraine request. Incidentally, CFRA points out, Congress' bill requests "nearly $7 billion more in direct spending than originally requested by the White House." The bill also authorizes "direct military assistance and intervention in Ukraine through the end of FY202." Notably, the "legislation no longer includes a pathway to citizenship for Afgan nationals," according to CFRA.