House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Republicans will not hand a “blank check” to Ukraine if his party wins next month’s elections, apparently confirming that bipartisan congressional support for Ukraine’s fight against Russia is wavering.
McCarthy, speaking to Punchbowl News, acknowledged the significance of the conflict, but said Americans are dealing with economic problems at home and can’t afford to prioritize helping Ukraine.
“I think people are gonna be sitting in a recession and they’re not going to write a blank check to Ukraine,” McCarthy said. “They just won’t do it.”
The U.S. has spent vast sums to help Ukraine resist Russia’s invasion. The Department of Defense on Friday announced an additional $725 million package to Ukraine.
Congress last month granted $12.3 billion in emergency funding to Ukraine. That is on top of the $54 billion the U.S. sent to the country in previous packages, according to The New York Times. Only 10 House Republicans voted to support the bill.
McCarthy in the past has blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin, comparing him to brutal dictators like Adolf Hitler, according to Punchbowl’s Jake Sherman. But a strong faction of House Republicans support an “America First” agenda backed by former President Donald Trump.
Last month, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) told Politico the GOP would demand a breakdown of how any additional U.S. aid will be used in Ukraine if his party wins control of the House. He condemned fellow Republicans for using “defense as an excuse to spend all manners of money.”
“Count me against throwing more money at Ukraine without having a serious conversation about guns and butter, a serious conversation about why we’re spending it and how it’s in our national security interest,” Roy said.
Meanwhile, Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) told Axios his constituents say the Ukraine war feels like a distant issue.
“When people are seeing a 13% increase in grocery prices; energy, utility bills doubling ... if you’re a border community and you’re being overrun by migrants and fentanyl, Ukraine is the furthest thing from your mind,” Armstrong said.
In the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has continued to express support for Ukraine. But some GOP Senate nominees in the midterm elections have signaled they do not share McConnell’s resolve.
J.D. Vance, the Trump-endorsed nominee in Ohio, said there needs to be an end to “the money spigot to Ukraine eventually.”
“We cannot fund a long-term military conflict that I think ultimately has diminishing returns for our own country,” Vance told the ABC affiliate in Toledo last month, according to The Washington Post.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) on Tuesday said a Republican majority doesn’t mean the U.S. will abandon Ukraine, but he told Bloomberg the GOP would be cautious.
“I think he’s just saying we’re not going to write a blank check without oversight and accountability, which my committee will be providing,” McCaul said.
The White House responded to McCarthy’s comments by saying the administration was committed to working with Congress to assist Ukraine “as long as it takes.”
“We’re going to closely monitor these discussions,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “I don’t want to get ahead of what Congress might look like next year. I don’t want to go into hypotheticals.”
Republicans are favored to win the House, according to polling aggregation site Five Thirty Eight, while Democrats hold a slight advantage in holding control of the Senate.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.