Maine Senate strongly endorses Ukraine resolution that divided House members
Mar. 9—The Maine Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday to approve a joint resolution in support of Ukraine.
The 27-4 vote came two days after the same resolution sparked a testy debate in the House, where 53 of 67 Republicans and one Democrat voted in opposition.
The House debate turned personal when opponents who spoke against the resolution were compared to Americans who didn't want to confront Hitler in the 1930s and '40s. House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland, had to caution lawmakers about their rhetoric before the vote.
In contrast, only one Senate Republican, Eric Brakey of Auburn, spoke against the resolution, calling it propaganda in support of a proxy war against Russia — one that could lead to a direct and possibly nuclear — confrontation.
"This resolution on the war in Ukraine is riddled with half truths, historical omissions and dangerous conclusions that urge our nation down the path of potential global nuclear war — the likes of which no one alive or dead on this Earth has ever seen and one that humanity will never experience twice," Brakey said. He said the resolution should call for peace talks to resolve "a border dispute."
Brakey also took issue with the resolution language calling Russia's invasion "unprovoked." He spent most of his 20 minute speech listing ways he believes the United States and NATO have provoked and threatened Russia, including NATOs eastward expansion, armed conflicts in the Middle East and the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi's regime in Libya.
The arguments largely mirrored those in the House on Tuesday, with Democrats supporting U.S. financial and military assistance to Ukraine to stop Russia's illegal invasion, which has yielded growing evidence of war crimes.
Sen. Jill Duson, D-Portland, noted that the invasion violated the United Nations charter and that the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution reaffirming the sovereign rights of Ukraine, demanding that Russia "completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces."
"The emerging human rights consequences of the current conflict in the Ukraine are a deep injustice that affects us all," Duson said. "We are not immune to the conflict. We do not exist in the world on an impenetrable island. ... I believe we have responsibility not to sit still — not to look away."
A growing number of conservative Republicans nationwide are objecting to continued U.S. military and economic support for Ukraine.
Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida has authored a "Ukraine fatigue" resolution that calls for ending all aid to Kyiv, which has netted 10 fellow Republican co-sponsors.
It has little chance of passing but it's meant to amplify the creeping public skepticism of a war far from the daily concerns of most Americans still grappling with inflation, health care accessibility and homegrown catastrophes like the trail derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
So far, more than $100 billion in military and financial assistance has been sent to Ukraine through 11 government offices since the start of the war a year ago, according to a January 2023 report from the Joint Strategic Oversight Plan for Ukraine Response.
A Pew poll showed only a quarter of Americans said the U.S. is spending too much in Ukraine, but that is an increase of 6 points since September. A separate Associated Press survey found that just 48% of voters support continued assistance to Ukraine, down from 60% from last May.