Eleven Republican senators challenged his leadership and voted against a motion promoting a $40 billion security assistance package for Ukraine on Monday, a sign of growing Republican opposition to US efforts to counter the bloody invasion. of Russian President Vladimir Putin three months ago.
The security package is not expected to pass until later this week because only one Republican senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, opposes a snap vote on the measure.
Paul has demanded that the legislation give authority to an inspector general to oversee spending, which he called unprecedented and fiscally unsound. But Democrats said that would require a new House vote and waste precious time given Russia’s daily shelling of Ukrainian cities that is causing horrific scenes of death and devastation.
In his speech Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) criticized Paul’s efforts to delay passage of the bill as “totally unacceptable,” saying it “only serves to strengthen Putin’s hand in the long run.”
Oleksandra Ustinova, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, lamented that the delay would cost lives in a message posted on Twitter:
Ten other Republican senators joined Paul in voting against the motion to advance the security package on Monday; many of these senators made statements of support for the plight of Ukraine following Russia’s invasion:
Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee)
John Boozman (Arkansas)
Mike Braun (Indiana)
Bill Hagerty (Tennessee)
Josh Hawley (Mo.)
Mike Lee (Utah)
Roger Marshall (Canada)
Tommy Tuberville (Alabama)
The list of lawmakers blocking aid to Ukraine has grown steadily over the last month. Last week, 57 Republicans voted against the Ukraine aid bill in the House. Two months ago, only three Republican members of the House voted against a separate security package.
Supporters of former President Donald Trump and right-wing pundits, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson, have ratcheted up the rhetoric against US support for Ukraine aid. Trump also took issue with the spending move last week, linking it to baby formula shortages that have been blamed on a safety recall and supply chain issues.
“Democrats are sending another $40 billion to Ukraine, but American parents are struggling to even feed their children,” Trump said in a statement issued by his super PAC.
Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.) plot that spending $40 billion on Ukraine “is not in America’s interests,” adding on Twitter that it “allows Europe to take advantage, neglects priorities at home (border), allows Europe to take advantage, briefly changes critical interests abroad and comes without meaning surveillance.”
But Sen. Rick Scott (Florida), a deficit hawk and, like Hawley, a possible 2024 presidential candidate, voted for the bill. Trump’s main ally called the Russian invasion of Ukraine “a threat to our national security and the security of our democratic allies.” He added: “The United States must always protect our interests and support democracy over tyranny.”
Monday’s vote to advance the Ukraine package came on the heels of a trip to kyiv by Senate Republican leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.). After meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, McConnell told reporters that he assured her “that support for Ukraine and this war against the Russians is bipartisan,” including from “an overwhelming majority of Republicans.”
McConnell also addressed opposition to Ukraine aid from the Trump wing of his party in a statement issued after the trip.
“Ukraine is not asking anyone else to fight their fight,” he said. “They only ask for the tools they need for self-defense.”
“The United States’ support for Ukraine’s self-defense is not mere philanthropy,” he added. “Defending the principle of sovereignty, promoting stability in Europe, and imposing costs on Russia’s open aggression have a direct and vital bearing on the national security and vital interests of the United States.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.