McKeon blasts ‘looney’ Senate Ukraine bill

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) on Wednesday blasted the Senate’s bill to enact sanctions against Russia and provide aid to Ukraine because it offsets some of the costs through cuts to the military.

McKeon called the bill from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) “looney” for proposing cuts to the military as part of the aid package, and he vowed to strongly oppose it in the House.

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“You don’t need an advanced degree in international relations to understand that the trillion dollars this President has cut from our military has emboldened international bullies like Vladimir Putin,” McKeon said in a statement.

"Now, as we are once again reminded why we need a strong military, Senate Democrats want to further raid the very accounts that make our military ready to meet a crisis," he said.

The Senate bill, which was marked up in the Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, includes limited sanctions against Russia and $150 million in new direct aid to Ukraine for both civil and military uses.

To pay for the spending, the bill cancels $157 million in spending for Air Force, Army and missile defense funds. Another $157 million is cut out of State Department development assistance accounts and from the Export-Import Bank.

The bill also includes language providing aid to Ukraine and keeps a controversial provision that would reallocate U.S. contributions to the International Monetary Fund and approve 2010 reforms proposed at the IMF. Many Republicans oppose that language.

Not all GOP defense hawks agree with McKeon. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters that he would support the Ukraine bill on the Senate floor.

“I’m very sympathetic [to raising objections] to that being an offset,” Graham said. “I want to help the Army as much as anybody, but this is a national security crisis. We’ve got to move on with it.”

— This story was updated at 6:16 p.m.