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And you thought I only hated the Dems?

The same kind of thinking brought us Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and the hits keep on coming. What a total scumbag!


Mitch McConnell Wants Military Buildup After Big Win on Ukraine Aid

Senate minority leader is pushing to boost military spending to confront China, Iran and Russia as he prepares to leave post

By Siobhan Hughes and Lindsay Wise, WSJ

Updated April 25, 2024


WASHINGTON—Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), fresh off a big bipartisan victory on overseas aid that reasserted America’s muscular role in the world, said he wants to pump up military spending to guard against new challenges from China, Russia and Iran.


“This is a skirmish in a larger war,” McConnell, who this week helped deliver a majority of Republican votes for a long-delayed $95.3 billion package of aid to Ukraine, Israel and other countries, said in an interview. “And so I think that requires ongoing attention, which is what is going to be my major interest here,” he said, pointing to the 1980s buildup under President Ronald Reagan.


Military spending will be central in the last major legislative fight before the November elections—and likely the last for McConnell as minority leader—with Congress facing a Sept. 30 deadline for funding the government in the new fiscal year. President Biden has called for $895.2 billion in base defense spending, the most on record but also an amount constrained by the 1% cap that was agreed to in last year’s Fiscal Responsibility Act, the debt-ceiling deal reached between Biden and former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.).


“Where we go from here is to try to impress upon the administration as well to increase defense spending,” said McConnell, 82 years old. “I mean that’s what Reagan taught us—you get peace through strength. And our current budget doesn’t reflect that.”


President Biden signed a foreign aid package into law with funds for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, as well as a bill forcing the sale of TikTok within a year.


McConnell’s assertive comments were in contrast to his tone in February, when he announced plans to step down as the Senate’s GOP leader after the November elections. That decision came after more than half of the Senate Republican conference voted against an earlier version of the Ukraine aid package. At the time, McConnell said that former President Donald Trump’s America First populist wing of the party was ascendant in the Republican Party.


He said at the time that his party’s politics had changed—at least for the moment—and become more inward-looking. But McConnell persisted in making his argument to fellow Republicans in recent months, arranging meetings for senators with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. He also set up small group meetings for GOP senators—including one dinner—with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, while holding other briefings on why helping Ukraine stave off an authoritarian Russia was in the U.S. national interest.


McConnell has long argued that the conflicts in Ukraine, the Middle East and Asia are interconnected, and that the abandonment of Kyiv would be a gift to America’s adversaries. He calls Russia, Iran, China and North Korea “the axis of aggressors.” Any effort to boost military spending would run into opposition from progressive Democrats among others.

When the Senate took up the House-passed aid package on Tuesday, 31 Senate Republicans voted for the foreign aid package—nine more than voted for similar legislation in February. They included freshmen Sens. Katie Britt (R., Ala.), Pete Ricketts (R., Neb.) and Markwayne Mullin (R., Okla.), whose names McConnell invoked to counter the argument that more recently elected Republicans tended to oppose military support for allies overseas.

Sen. Katie Britt of Alabama.


“Newbies—they all voted for it,” McConnell said of the group that moved to his side. He called the intraparty tug of war a “big family argument that you all watched go on for months.”


Other first-term senators J.D. Vance (R., Ohio), Ted Budd (R., N.C.) and Eric Schmitt (R., Mo.) remained “no” votes.


“At the end of the day, most of the money in this package goes to a war where there’s no end in sight,” said Vance. “There’s no strategy, and we simply don’t have the munitions to fundamentally change the reality on the ground.”


But the number of Republican “yes” votes energized Republican defense hawks in the Senate, who saw it as a repudiation of the idea that isolationists intent on cutting foreign aid and military muscle overseas have come to dominate their party.


“This idea that somehow the peace through strength, the Reagan wing of the Republican Party has been vanquished? It’s ridiculous, right?” said Sen. Dan Sullivan (R., Alaska). “It’s still the dominant component. Still. Hell yeah.”


McConnell said the increased Republican support in Tuesday’s vote was a result of lawmakers finally getting a chance to focus solely on geopolitical issues. The earlier aid vote had come just after the failure of a bipartisan effort to condition aid on curbing illegal immigration at America’s southern border. Trump played a central role in sinking the border deal, but in recent weeks declined to pressure lawmakers to block the aid bill.


“The border discussion, which seemed to go on endlessly, kind of distracted everybody,” McConnell said. “What I noticed in the last couple of months,” he said, “is how much more attention to the facts was occurring among our members.”


McConnell said that, in turn, enabled Republicans to stand up to their own voters, who he said had been turned against Ukraine aid by sources including media personality Tucker Carlson. Carlson declined to comment after McConnell singled him out after the vote.

“More members, I think, were willing to tell their constituents, ‘By the way, what you think is not correct,’” he said.


McConnell suggested that a meeting between Trump—who had been a vocal opponent of Ukraine aid—with House Speaker Mike Johnson (R., La.) at Mar-a-Lago before the House vote and the former president’s subsequent remarks also helped.


“I thought it was significant that President Trump met with the speaker and basically backed him up,” McConnell said. “But you know, this is never over. This is a lengthy discussion.”


Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) praised McConnell in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, saying that while he and McConnell don’t always agree, they “worked hand-in-hand and shoulder-to-shoulder to get this bill done.”


McConnell concurred. “On this particular issue, we had a good relationship,” he said. “But he didn’t have a problem. I was the one that had my hands full.”


Write to Siobhan Hughes at Siobhan.hughes@wsj.com and Lindsay Wise at lindsay.wise@wsj.com

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