McCarthy Yields to Conservatives, Vows to Remove Ukraine Funding from Pentagon Spending Package

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) declared on Friday his intention to eliminate funding designated for Ukraine from a Pentagon spending bill.

This decision came after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) aligned with conservative members to obstruct the advancement of the legislation earlier this week.

McCarthy stated that he would extract the $300 million allocated for Ukraine from the Pentagon appropriations bill and arrange a separate vote specifically for this funding.

“It would be out and voted on by itself,” McCarthy said.

The Speaker’s declaration comes in the wake of a coalition of five conservative lawmakers who opposed a procedural vote related to the Pentagon appropriations bill, effectively stalling the progress of the legislation. Remarkably, this marked the second time this week that hardline conservatives prevented the funding bill from advancing.

Typically, votes on legislative rules, which govern the debate surrounding bills, follow a predictable partisan pattern, with the majority voting “yes” and the minority voting “no.” The failure of rules on the floor is an uncommon occurrence.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a close ally of Speaker McCarthy, was among the Republicans who voted against the rule on Thursday, citing her objection to its funding of the Ukraine conflict. This marked a shift from her earlier vote on Tuesday when she supported the procedural measure to advance the Defense bill.

The rule failed for the second time on the same day when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with lawmakers in the Capitol.

The Pentagon funding bill includes a provision allocating $300 million to provide assistance, encompassing training, equipment, lethal aid, logistics support, salaries, and intelligence support, to Ukraine’s military and national security forces, as well as to other entities recognized by the Ukrainian government engaged in countering Russian aggression. Greene has been vocal in her opposition to providing additional funding to Ukraine. On Friday morning, she expressed her willingness to support the measure if the Ukraine aid component is removed.

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In response to McCarthy’s announcement on Friday, Greene voiced her frustration, stating that it took leadership an extended period to eliminate the funding.

“This should have happened weeks ago,” Greene told The Hill in a statement. “I’ve made it loud and clear that I would not vote for a single penny of Ukraine funding. It’s frustrating to me things had to get to this level, that we had to waste an entire week when we could have been passing appropriations.”

“Our defense appropriations bill should never be going to fund a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine, so this is a victory for common sense,” she later added. “I’m proud to have made it happen.”

The unsuccessful rule vote on Thursday dealt a significant setback to McCarthy’s efforts to push forward with the appropriations process, all in an attempt to meet the looming September 30 shutdown deadline, but with no success.

Beyond the two rule votes that faltered in relation to the Pentagon appropriations bill, leadership abandoned their plans to vote on a partisan continuing resolution to fund the government beyond September 30, following opposition from several conservatives on Tuesday.

House GOP leadership made the decision to send members home on Thursday evening, as the week had seen no meaningful progress.

By Melinda Davies
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