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Russia Ukraine War

Congressional Chaos: The Battle Over $60 Billion for Ukraine Instigated by the ‘Hateful Eight’ 

Months of Congressional chaos have left U.S. aid to Ukraine paralysed, creating a four-month deadlock in providing essential assistance that it needs to prevent a Russian victory. 

Now, the U.S. Senate proposed a comprehensive $95 billion aid package, earmarking $60 billion specifically for Ukraine. However, the fate of this much-needed aid remains uncertain as it faces challenges in the House of Representatives, where Speaker Mike Johnson, who ascended to his position amid the removal of Kevin McCarthy by a group of ‘Hateful Eight’ Republican members, holds a significant influence. 

The impending catastrophe, if swift action is not taken, demands immediate attention, with President Biden’s warning that opposing Ukraine funding would play into “Putin’s hands.” The situation also highlights the broader geopolitical implications of internal divisions within the U.S. government. 

Unravelling the Controversial Vote: The ‘Hateful Eight’ and the Battle for Ukraine Aid 

  • In September 2023, a contentious vote led by Rep. Matt Gaetz and seven Republicans aimed to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy. 
  • Termed the “Hateful Eight,” six members who voted McCarthy out expressed Anti-Ukraine sentiments, raising concerns about their intent to disrupt aid.  
  • Elevating domestic priorities and emphasizing fiscal responsibility emerged as central points of disagreement, drawing attention due to their alignment with former President Donald Trump and association with the “pro-Putin” faction. 
  • As the Speaker’s chair sat empty there was concern over the internal functioning of the House and U.S. ability to allocate resources to key allies, including Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.  
  • A 22-day vacancy ensued before Mike Johnson assumed the role, a Trump-allied Speaker whose “Very Poor” rating on Ukraine aid intensified the debate.  

Dissenting Republicans continue to be relevant, raising questions about their motivations and the broader implications of their opposition to foreign aid. 

What is at stake for Ukraine? 

  • Ukraine emphasises the grave battlefield ramifications of the U.S. funding failure, citing shortages in personnel and ammunition for its struggling soldiers. 
  • Western officials issue stark warnings, asserting that Ukraine is ‘certain to fail’ against Russia without vital U.S. aid. 
  • Since the war’s onset, the Biden administration and Congress have allocated a substantial $75 billion to Ukraine, spanning humanitarian, financial, and military assistance. 

While Biden lacks the authority to compel Congress, he earnestly implores, stating, “For Republicans in Congress who think they can oppose funding for Ukraine and not be held accountable, history is watching.” Adding that “Failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will never be forgotten.”  

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky quickly hailed passage of the bill, stating, “American assistance brings just peace in Ukraine closer and restores global stability, resulting in increased security and prosperity for all Americans and all the free world.”  

(Source: European Union) 

The ‘Hateful Eight’ who voted to remove McCarthy 

Kevin McCarthy used “Hateful Eight” to characterise members who voted for his removal, also referred to as the “Crazy Eight” or “Gaetz Eight” (as “hateful eight” is already taken). It is alleged that certain members voted McCarthy out with the specific intention of deliberately disrupting aid to Ukraine, particularly noteworthy as some of these individuals are affiliated with the “pro-Putin caucus.” Here are some insights into their statements regarding financial aid for Ukraine and other nations.  

The increasing opposition to funding Ukraine within the Republican ranks seems to align with Donald Trump’s “America First” philosophy. This growing resistance appears to be a direct response to Trump’s foreign policy approach, which has strongly resonated with the more isolationist faction within the party. It’s noteworthy that, except for Tim Burchett and Ken Buck, the remaining six members who voted against McCarthy have all endorsed former President Trump’s potential comeback bid in 2024.  

(Pro/Anti labels sourced from Republicans for Ukraine, a pro-Ukraine initiative associated with the conservative non-profit Defending Democracy Together)

Matt Gaetz  Anti-Ukraine Hard-right Congressman and Trump loyalist Gaetz pulled the plug on Macarthy, accusing him of making “secret side deal” with Biden on Ukraine.  “I’m more concerned with the US-Mexico border than the Russia-Ukraine border. Not sorry.”  “If we had to pick Russia or Ukraine for NATO, one could reasonably make the argument that Russia probably provides more benefit long term.”  
Andy Biggs Anti-Ukraine Biggs was one of only six House members who cast their votes against a crucial bill aimed at documenting and safeguarding evidence of war crimes during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He boldly opposed a pivotal bill that sought to enforce a Russian oil ban and institute further sanctions against the Kremlin.  “I’m a hard NO on the Senate’s foreign aid package and will do whatever I can to stop it in the House. Another $60 billion to Ukraine and $0 to our southern border? No thanks.”  “Ukraine is not our 51st state.” 
Tim Burchett
Anti-Ukraine Started off as a firm supporter of McCarthy having voted for him 15 times.  Tim Burchett voted to cut all funding for Ukraine in a national defence appropriation bill.   “I won’t vote to send billions to a corrupt Ukraine when we won’t build a border wall, have veterans living under bridges, and are nearly $34T in debt. Where do our priorities lie?” 
Eli Crane
Anti-Ukraine Trump-backed Crane has expressed concern over U.S. aid to Ukraine, signing a letter to oppose all future aid packages unless they are linked to a clear diplomatic strategy designed to bring this war to a rapid conclusion.   “We cannot afford to continue bankrolling a land dispute in Eastern Europe. Our involvement is siphoning funds away from securing our border & recklessly gives the conflict in Ukraine parity with Israel’s existential war against genocidal terrorists.” 
Bob Good 
Anti-Ukraine Has demanded that any foreign assistance be offset by spending cuts, noting large federal budget deficits.  “Securing our own border and getting our budget under control must be our priorities, not borrowing hundreds of billions to send to other countries. We need to put our national and economic security FIRST.” 
Matt Rosendale 
Anti-Ukraine In 2023, Rosendale reintroduced legislation to prohibit Ukraine intervention until America’s southern border is secured. Called Zelensky corrupt and accused the war of being a scam following reports of a $40m arms fraud in Ukraine.   “I have major concerns about a compromised president of the United States who is sending incredible support to a less-than-forthright president of the Ukraine.” 
Nancy Mace
Uncommitted Emphasises that there are numerous other priorities taking precedence over Ukraine funding.  “Blank checks and fiscal chaos, courtesy of the swamp, folks. If this bill gets the green light, Ukraine will have walked away with more than $173 billion in total aid from the U.S. To put into perspective, @POTUS requested $177B in FY23 to fund the entire U.S. Army…” 
Ken Buck
Pro-Ukraine While he has previously voiced support for Ukraine, his recent voting record shows him opposed to additional aid to Ukraine.   “Given the grave financial picture in our country, I could not support writing what amounts to a blank check to the administration for its directionless Ukraine policy.” 

The End of an Era: Is U.S. Global Leadership at Stake? 

The likes of the Hateful Eight’s and Johnson’s opposition to foreign aid represents a shift in the traditional bipartisan approach to foreign policy that has characterised the United States for over eighty years. This deviation, rooted in concerns about fiscal responsibility and foreign entanglements, reflects broader changes in the American political landscape. With isolationist sentiments gaining traction, some Republicans question the necessity of global leadership and international alliances. 

“Republicans once stood against communism and thugs like Vladimir Putin, but it’s a shame that not every Republican is speaking out against what Russia is doing to Ukraine,” said Gunner Ramer, a spokesperson for Republicans for Ukraine. 

Opponents argue that failing to support Ukraine emboldens Russian aggression, undermines democratic values in Europe, and jeopardises America’s global leadership role.  

The failure to provide aid to Ukraine is not merely a financial concern; it has broader implications for U.S. global leadership. The ongoing debate exposes a division within the Republican Party and challenges the historical bipartisan consensus on international engagement. As the U.S. faces evolving threats from Russia and China, maintaining unity in foreign policy becomes increasingly crucial. 

Val Dockrell is a London-based Senior Investigator and Open Source Intelligence (“OSINT”) specialist who has led in-depth investigations in multiple jurisdictions around the world. She also speaks several languages and is a member of the Fraud Women’s Network. Her X (formerly Twitter) handle is @ValDockrell.