Senate passes resolution supporting Ukraine amid invasion fears
The Senate on Thursday night passed a resolution supporting Kyiv and urging President Biden to “impose significant costs” if Russia invaded Ukraine.
The resolution, which passed the Senate by a voice vote, comes as senators are leaving town for a one-week break amid growing concern from U.S. officials, including President Biden, that an invasion by Moscow is imminent.
“By acting in bipartisan fashion today, the United States Senate sent a strong message to Russia and the world that we stand with Ukraine,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said in a statement.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who sponsored the resolution with Portman, added that “by overwhelmingly voting in favor of this resolution, today the Senate spoke with one voice.”
“Democrats and Republicans are united and committed to supporting our Ukrainian partners against the Kremlin’s escalating violence and aggression. Putin will make a gross miscalculation and suffer the full weight of the U.S. Congress if he decides to further invade Ukraine,” Shaheen said.
The Senate’s passage of the resolution, which was co-sponsored by roughly 40 senators, comes after Senate leadership and members of top committees released a joint statement saying that if Putin escalated “his ongoing assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty, Russia must be made to pay a severe price.”
“This was a very significant resolution that we passed. It was led by Senators Shaheen and Portman and sends a very strong message to Mr. Putin that the United States Senate, Democrats and Republicans of all different ideologies, are united in defending Ukraine in the ways that the administration sees fit,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said after the Senate passed the resolution on Thursday night.
There’s growing concern in Washington that Putin is likely to invade Ukraine.
A senior administration official characterized Moscow’s claim that it was withdrawing forces as “false” and said Wednesday evening that Russia has added as many as 7,000 troops at its border with the other nation. And Biden said on Thursday that he believed Russia will invade Ukraine in the next several days, noting that Russia has added more troops to the border.
But even as senators touted their ability to unify behind the resolution and the statement, they failed to get a deal on a sweeping sanctions package.
Sens. James Risch (R-Idaho) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the top Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, respectively, led a bipartisan group that worked for weeks on a potential piece of legislation. But they warned last week that they had hit a wall with disagreements related to secondary sanctions on Russia’s banks, which could have broader impacts across Europe, and what to do about the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
And the fate of the resolution was in limbo earlier Thursday after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) warned that he would object to quickly passing it without changes. Because senators wanted to fast-track passage of the resolution, they needed buy-in from all 100 senators.
Sponsors of the resolution made changes to address Paul’s concerns, including adding language specifying that the resolution, which is nonbinding, was not meant to be viewed as authorization for the use of military force against Russia or authorizing U.S. troops for Ukraine.