Ukrainian defense minister brushes off McCarthy’s ‘blank check’ comments as campaign tactics

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)
Greg Nash
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks to reporters outside his office on Friday, August 12, 2022 to discuss the FBI seizing documents from former President Trump’s Mar-a-largo home earlier in the week.

Ukraine’s defense minister is brushing off House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) recent comments that Republicans in the lower chamber will not write a “blank check” to Ukraine, chalking them up as campaign tactics.

“Political statements from the so-called opposition right now in different countries just means that they continue their election campaigns, and I know they have to say something for their electorate trying to criticize the authorities of the moment,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told Politico in an interview.

“But I hope that the people of United States want to be with Ukraine in this war, and want to be against the Russian terrorist state,” he added.

In an interview with Punchbowl News published on Tuesday, McCarthy — who will likely become Speaker if Republicans take control of the House next month — warned that a GOP majority in the lower chamber will not “write a blank check to Ukraine” as Kyiv continues to defend itself against Russia.

“I think people are gonna be sitting in a recession and they’re not going to write a blank check to Ukraine. They just won’t do it. … It’s not a free blank check,” McCarthy said. “And then there’s the things [the Biden administration] is not doing domestically. Not doing the border and people begin to weigh that. Ukraine is important, but at the same time it can’t be the only thing they do and it can’t be a blank check.”

The House GOP leader later defended those comments on CNBC, expressing support for Ukraine while doubling down on the idea that Washington should not send Kyiv a “blank check,” citing the debt in the U.S.

“I think Ukraine is very important. I support making sure that we move forward to defeat Russia in that program. But there should be no blank check on anything. We are $31 trillion in debt,” McCarthy told the business news channel on Wednesday.

“It’s amazing to me that that somehow made news,” McCarthy continued. “Wouldn’t you want a check and balance in Congress? Wouldn’t you want this hardworking taxpayers’ money, someone overseeing it? We’ve got to eliminate the wasteful spending in Washington.”

The U.S. has authorized $60 billion in economic and military aid for Ukraine since Russia began its invasion in February.

McCarthy’s remarks sparked backlash from both sides of the aisle, with lawmakers criticizing the GOP leader for suggesting that his conference will cease support to Ukraine amid its battle with Russia.

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) accused McCarthy of “repeat[ing] Putin’s talking points,” while Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who has more openly criticized leadership in her party, called the comments “really disgraceful.”

McCarthy’s comments are emblematic of the anti-interventionist wing of the House GOP conference that has voted against funding for the country in the past. In May, the House approved $40 billion in aid for Ukraine, despite 57 Republicans voting “no.”

On the other side of the Capitol, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been supportive of sending military aid to Ukraine, highlighting a split between the two Republican leaders.

Tags Kevin McCarthy Liz Cheney Oleksii Reznikov russian invasion of ukraine ukraine war war in ukraine
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