Senate Minority Leader criticized President on Monday for “hesitancy” to provide aid to Ukraine, saying it has “prolonged the bloodshed.”
The senator has been a vocal ally of Biden’s proposed $106 billion funding package, which the Democratic president has been urging Congress to pass since mid-October. But McConnell’s latest remarks come as he faces pressure among fellow Republicans, including new House Speaker Mike Johnson, to focus on the situation in Israel separately.
“This is a moment for swift and decisive action to prevent further loss of life and impose real consequences on the powers that have terrorized the people of Ukraine and Israel,” he said at the University of Louisville. “Right now, the Senate has a chance to produce supplemental assistance that will help us do exactly that.”
The Kentucky senator was speaking alongside , Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, who was his guest at the McConnell Center speaker series at U of L.
Markarova urged the U.S. for financial support, referencing a 1941 Winston Churchill speech: “Give me the tools and I will finish the job,” she said.
The multibillion-dollar aid package would tie U.S. border security financing and foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan together in one congressional bundle.
“Right now our efforts are making a difference up in Ukraine and here at home, but the Biden administration’s hesitation along the way has really, in my view, prolonged the bloodshed,” McConnell said.
In his speech, he cast the situation as a global, Cold War-style fight for democracy.
“Think of it as an axis of evil: China, Russia and Iran,” McConnell said. “So this is not just a test for Ukraine. It is a test for the United States and from the free world. And the path toward greater security for all of us is simple: Help Ukraine win the war.”
His call to action was met with thunderous applause from the crowd, which included Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg, his wife Rachel Greenberg and state Reps. Suzanne Miles, Emily Callaway and Susan Tyler Witten.
McConnell and Markarova said the war in Ukraine is about preventing the spread of conflict.
“We have to stay the course,” Marakarova said. “Please stand a little bit longer with us.”
But some House Republicans have plans to push a stand-alone aid bill to Israel this week, Johnson said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
“We believe that is a pressing and urgent need,” he said about the bill. “There are lots of things going on around the world that we have to address and we will, but right now what’s happening in Israel takes the immediate attention and I think we have to separate that and get it through.”
Johnson said he believes the bill will move out of the House and receive bipartisan support in the Senate, but Senate leaders like McConnell remain steadfast in their belief that aid to Ukraine and Israel should be kept in one bill.
On Oct. 18, Biden announced he would provide $100 million in “humanitarian assistance” for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. The larger, $106 billion proposal would include “humanitarian aid” for people in Gaza, Israel and Ukraine, but would not supply Palestinians with any additional aid, unlike Israel and Ukraine.
This story may be updated.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Ukraine aid: McConnell says Biden has ‘prolonged the bloodshed’