|Key Point: “No matter how much these Republicans want to clamor on about the southern border and suggest that it should take precedence over Ukraine, though, the U.S. Department of Defense has assessed that the ‘primary’ threat to the homeland right now is not immigration flows at the southern border, but rather—you guessed it—Russia.”
Daily Beast: Conservatives Try to Hold Up Ukraine Aid for Bullshit Reason
Just days before Russia invaded Ukraine, a small group of Republican lawmakers seized on Russia’s buildup of troops on the Ukrainian border to make a tenuous point about a situation 6,600 miles away: President Joe Biden needs to do something about the southern border of the United States.
The conservative group of lawmakers introduced legislation tying military assistance to Ukraine with the status of the U.S.-Mexican border.
You may think conservatives would abandon their politically performative legislation after Russian President Vladimir Putin actually mounted his attack: His forces have been killing civilians and attacking Ukrainian cities for two weeks now. Just this Wednesday Russian forces bombed a Ukrainian maternity hospital.
But in spite of the carnage, many of these Republicans are doubling down.
And Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), who also backed the bill, told The Daily Beast he still thinks southern border security should take precedence over Ukraine.
“I remain firmly convinced that our open southern border… is the greatest threat to our prosperity and security,” Gosar told The Daily Beast. “As heartbreaking as it is, Ukrainian borders are not vital to our nation.”
These Republicans are so committed to their quixotic bill that they’re actually willing to railroad aid to Ukraine—and shut down the government—to make their point.
While aid packages to Ukraine have taken months to roll out in the past, the Biden administration has worked to speed up the process so aid can be provided not in months, but in a matter of hours and days, according to a senior defense official.
“In a more routine situation, you might have those processes play out over the course of, in fact, weeks or maybe even months,” a senior defense official told reporters on a call last week. “We have just accelerated our process” into “hours and days,” the official said.
When asked if he still wants to push through the bill now that Russia’s invaded Ukraine, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT), declined to answer questions in person, insisting that his communications director would set up an interview. His communications director did not return requests for comment.
When The Daily Beast approached another cosponsor of the legislation—Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)—he refused to make eye contact with this reporter and ignored repeated questions. His office also did not return multiple requests for comment.
No matter how much these Republicans want to clamor on about the southern border and suggest that it should take precedence over Ukraine, though, the U.S. Department of Defense has assessed that the “primary” threat to the homeland right now is not immigration flows at the southern border, but rather—you guessed it—Russia.
“Russia is the primary military threat to the homeland,” Gen. Glen VanHerck, the Commander of U.S. Northern Command, told lawmakers in testimony Tuesday. “Russia has fielded a new family of advanced air-, sea-, and ground-based cruise missiles to threaten critical civilian and military infrastructure.”
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