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Republicans join Senate Democrats in shutting down amendment to limit Ukraine funding

Republican senators joined the Democratic majority Thursday to shut down an effort to limit Ukraine funding in the annual Pentagon policy bill.

In its last vote of the week, the chamber rejected on a 71-13 vote an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have required that $800 million in Ukraine funding in the bill be limited until U.S. allies chip in more funding for the country’s war effort.

Sen. Mike Lee, the Utah Republican who proposed the amendment, said before the vote that it would encourage other National Atlantic Treaty Organization countries to shoulder their “fair share of the security burden” in Europe.

Mr. Lee’s amendment would have required that just 2% of the funding for Ukraine aid that the NDAA might authorize actually be sent to Kyiv until other NATO countries meet the alliance’s longstanding target of devoting at least 2% of their gross domestic product to defense spending.

“For it to be a collective endeavor, they’ve got to pay their way — they haven’t been,” Mr. Lee said. “This would incentivize them to do so.”

But Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island Democrat and Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, said that Mr. Lee’s amendment was reckless, and would undermine the war effort in Ukraine.

“It would essentially halt 98% of the aid that we would authorize and appropriate in Ukraine, which would be good news in Moscow, but bad news in Kyiv,” Mr. Reed said.

Republican senators voted 26-13 against the provision as did all 45 Democrats who voted.

Besides Mr. Lee, the 12 Republican senators who voted in favor of the amendment were Sens. Steve Daines of Montana, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Mike Braun of Indiana, Katie Britt and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rick Scott of Florida, and J.D. Vance of Ohio.

Mr. Lee’s amendment was one of a slate of add-ons authored by the Utah Republican that seek to reel back the U.S. involvement in the Ukrainian war.

Other amendments include a prohibition on a long-term security assistance guarantee to Ukraine, the ending of President Biden’s unforeseen emergency declaration for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a ban on the use of force against Russia, and a declaration that Ukraine cannot join NATO until the war with Russia ends.

Those measures are expected to be voted on next week, but no specific date has been set.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, New York Democrat, has promised that the chamber will move swiftly and in a bipartisan fashion to finish work on the must-pass NDAA as August recess fast approaches.

The chamber has other NDAA amendments to vote on next week besides the Ukraine provisions, including measures to set aside $10 million for mobile mammogram services for female veterans, to end China’s status as a developing nation, and to ban the military from buying drones from foreign adversaries.

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