A large faction of far-right-wing Republicans in Congress sent a letter to GOP leadership on Friday demanding they delay efforts to deliver military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, which is currently under attack by the Russian military on orders from President Vladimir Putin.
The Biden administration has requested $10 billion to aid Ukraine, where, according to the United Nations, more than 400 civilians have died and from which 1.7 million people have fled since Russian forces invaded the Eastern European nation on Feb. 24.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy implored the United States to send more aid in a private Zoom meeting with members of Congress on Saturday. Congressional Democrats want to include the funding in a spending bill that must pass by Friday in order to avert a government shutdown.
However, the House Freedom Caucus — a group of the most far-right members of the House, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) — wants to delay passage of the aid, urging "a collective resolve among Republicans" to "not pass a government funding bill that includes aid to Ukraine or for COVID-19 relief efforts."
Instead, the House Freedom Caucus wants to "debate" the need for and amount of aid to the war-torn nation.
"We request Republican leadership focus not on 'parity' of increased government spending and rushed legislation to 'avoid a shutdown,' but rather take specific action to change the direction of this country on these important issues, among others, by using the power of the purse granted to us in Article 1 of the Constitution," the letter reads.
Delaying the passage of aid to Ukraine is not the only thing the group of right-wing Republicans wants.
The House Freedom Caucus also wants to keep more COVID-19 relief funding out of the spending deal, which the Biden administration has also requested, as well as to defund efforts to enforce COVID-19 vaccine requirements in the federal government.
Democrats, for their part, are close to finalizing a government spending deal that includes aid to Ukraine as well as COVID-19 relief, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a letter to senators on Monday.
Democrats control the House, giving the House Freedom Caucus little leverage to stop the funding bill's passage.
However, because of the filibuster, Democrats need 10 GOP votes to advance the funding package in the Senate. If the Freedom Caucus convinces enough Republicans not to support a funding bill with Ukraine aid and COVID-19 relief funds and it doesn't pass, the federal government would shut down on March 12.
This is not the first time in recent months that the House Freedom Caucus has tried to shut down the government.
Back in November, the group wanted to shut down the government over COVID-19 vaccine requirements.
"No Member of Congress exercising their authority to control the 'power of the purse' under Article I of the Constitution of the United States should vote to fund an Executive Branch that is requiring unconstitutional vaccine mandates on American citizens in the private sector, or foolishly and wrongheadedly mandating the COVID-19 vaccination of government personnel," the group said at the time.
Congress, however, went on to pass a short-term funding deal, keeping the government open but punting the full government funding debate to this year.
Reprinted with permission from American Independent