Rand Paul, the lone holdout senator, postpones vote on Ukraine aid next week

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Senator Rand Paul (R-Kyiv) on Thursday vetoed the Senate’s vote to help Ukraine, delaying passage of the bill until next week and discouraging a bipartisan effort to maintain steady aid for Kyiv.

The senator faced a backlash for his opposition but said he stood by his decision. “I swear my office to the Constitution of the United States, and not to any foreign nation,” Paul chirp On Thursday evening, he repeated his remarks on the Senate floor. While saying he sympathizes with the Ukrainian people, Paul added that the United States “can’t keep spending money we don’t have” because doing so “threatens our national security.”

The bill – which would send $39.8 billion in economic, humanitarian and defense aid to Ukraine – passed in the House of Representatives This week with wide support. President Biden said he wants it on his desk by the end of this week, as Washington tries to avert any disruption in funding to Ukraine as Kyiv’s forces have clashed with the Russian military in the country’s east and south. In a letter to lawmakers this month urging Congress to approve the aid package, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin He said the remaining aid funds will run out by May 19.

Paul was able to block the package’s progress on his own because the Senate would require unanimous approval to quickly move such a bill to a final vote. Now, Chamber must jump through all the usual procedural hoops.

The House of Representatives approves $40 billion in aid to Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression

Paul requested that an inspector general be appointed to oversee the funding but declined an offer from Senate leaders for a vote on his ruling amendment. Changing the bill would have forced him to return to the House of Representatives.

In response, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DNY) said Paul’s position went against the “overwhelming majority” of lawmakers in the House. “Again, all he will accomplish with his actions here today is delay that assistance, not stop it,” Schumer added. “It is a much-needed help from a brave people who are fighting against tyranny and defending democracy.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki He indicated in a press briefing on Thursday That bill already Including financing For the current inspectors general, in addition to other control measures. She also repeated Biden’s call to push the aid package through the legislative process.

Paul’s opposition aroused resentment at home and abroad. Oleksandr Sherpa, former ambassador of Ukraine to Austria, said: on Twitter Paul’s move was a failure to defend Ukraine’s freedom. The Democratic candidate looking to impeach Paul in this year’s election, Charles Booker, too denounce obstructed him. Paul’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Last month, Paul She said During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, he said that US support for Ukraine to join NATO contributed to Russia’s decision to invade. The comment was seen as an echo of Russian talking points, leading to a clash with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and drawing rebukes from Russia’s watchers.

Zheng reported from Seoul.