WASHINGTON (CN) — Democrats bemoaned division in the name of transparency Friday as the lower chamber’s foreign affairs committee cleared a piece of legislation that holds a magnifying glass up to federal funds Ukraine has received to support its fight against Russia.
“Despite what my GOP colleagues may claim today, this resolution is not about transparency, or strengthening accounting of our support for Ukraine, which we all agree is important,” said Congressman Gregory Meeks, a New York Democrat and the committee’s ranking member.
“This political measure is unnecessarily divisive and plays directly into Vladimir Putin’s hands."
The House Foreign Affairs Committee advanced the bill with a 26-20 vote Friday morning.
“Every dollar counts,” Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican who chairs the panel, said in an opening statement. “And the Biden administration should expect this committee to be vigilant in demanding transparency and accountability for U.S. assistance to Ukraine.”
Sponsored by Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, the resolution would direct Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to provide Congress with a trove of documents, records and correspondence concerning government spending on Ukraine aid from January 2021 to Feb. 24 of this year.
A similar measure that Greene proposed in November — before the House majority tipped to her party — failed to see a vote.
“I’ve got to tell you, I can’t help but feel frustrated,” Meeks said. “Here we are again. We considered this exact same measure in the last Congress. It was, at that time, divisive and ill-advised, and it remains so today.”
Meeks argued that bipartisan support for Ukraine has been critical for providing Kiev with the money it needs to repel the now year-old Russian invasion. He said efforts like Greene’s put that support in jeopardy.
McCaul pushed back on the Democrats’ assertion that the proposed resolution is pure politics.
“It is unfortunate that some misunderstand strong oversight as somehow at odds with strong U.S. support for Ukraine’s self-defense against Putin’s brutal illegal invasion,” the committee chair said. “This oversight is vital for continued U.S. support and for ensuring such support is effective in protecting American security interests abroad.”
The resolution’s sponsor meanwhile has been outspoken against such funding. In a February interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Greene claimed that American interests are not served by supporting Ukraine's fight against Moscow.
The congresswoman said her measure would serve as an audit of Ukraine spending. “That is exactly what the American people need, an audit of Ukraine, because we have no idea where all this money’s going.”
Washington has earmarked dozens of packages of military equipment to Kyiv in the last six months alone. One $400 million package of hardware that the State Department unveiled on March 3 includes ammunition for the Himars mobile rocket launcher platform, Bradley armored vehicles, and maintenance, training and support services.
Russian forces first invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2021. The ensuing war, which has seen Moscow conducting missile attacks on population centers and other civilian targets, has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.
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