Pelosi on McCarthy comment: ‘We’ve never given a blank check to Ukraine’

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)
Greg Nash
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday said the U.S. has “never given a blank check” to Ukraine, a week after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) warned a Republican-controlled House would not write a “blank check” to the war-torn country.

“Someone made a statement of we’re not giving a blank check to Ukraine. We’ve never given a blank check to Ukraine,” Pelosi said during a joint press conference in Croatia alongside Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Monday.

“Ukrainians have dealt with any assistance we have given them, and I’m sure you have given them, with great integrity, with great compliance, with great accountability, and with great transparency,” she added.

Pelosi is in Zagreb, Croatia, representing the U.S. at the First Parliamentary Summit of the International Crimea Platform, which is focused on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

McCarthy — who is poised to secure the Speaker’s gavel next year if Republicans take control of the House, which is widely expected — caused a stir last week after he told Punchbowl News in an interview that Republicans will not write Ukraine a “blank check” if they win the majority of the House in next month’s midterm elections.

Without naming McCarthy, the Speaker said the GOP leader’s comments insinuated the U.S. would cease aid to Ukraine if Republicans control the House next year, which is “not true.”

“The inference to be drawn from that is we wouldn’t be giving them help. That’s not true, and that there has been a blank check, that’s not true. This has been a relationship of great integrity for democracy and freedom throughout the world,” she said.

The U.S. has sent billions of dollars of economic and military assistance to Ukraine since Russia began its invasion on Feb. 24. In May, Congress passed and President Biden signed a roughly $40 billion aid package for Kyiv, which included security, humanitarian and economic support.

“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,” he added.

The California Republican defended his controversial comments one day later, telling CNBC in an interview, “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.”

Republicans are favored to take control of the House in next month’s midterm elections over Democrats, 81 percent to 19 percent, according to election forecaster FiveThirtyEight.

Ukraine has received bipartisan and bicameral support in Congress, but a contingent of House Republicans have opposed support for the country. Fifty-seven GOP lawmakers opposed the roughly $40 billion aid package.

Ten House Republicans also voted against a bill in April to create a lend-lease program, making it easier for the U.S. to send military aid to Ukraine during its conflict with Russia. The measure ultimately passed, and Biden signed it into law.

Biden told reporters last week that he is “worried” about the fate of Ukraine aid should Republicans win control of Congress in November.

“I am worried about it because they said they would cut it,” he said.

Pelosi, however, indicated she is confident that support for Ukraine will continue regardless of who controls Congress next year.

Asked at the joint press conference in Croatia if she is concerned about the effects a GOP Congress could have on Ukraine aid, Pelosi said the support “will not stop.”

“I believe that the support for Ukraine and the people of Ukraine, their courage, and the military support and refugee support and the rest that the U.S. is supply, again, learning from some of the experiences of our European friends including and starting with Croatia, will not stop,” Pelosi said.

“Support for Ukraine is bipartisan, it is bicameral — that means in the House and in the Senate — and it starts in the White House with our president,” she added.

Tags Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Nancy Pelosi Russian invasion Ukraine Ukraine war

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