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McConnell supports Biden’s Israel and Ukraine aid bundle, hopes for ‘functional’ House

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is openly championing President Joe Biden’s push to bundle Ukraine and Israel aid together while also wishing for a “functional” House.

Biden delivered a his second primetime Oval Office address last Thursday seeking to gin up support for the White House’s proposed roughly $106 billion package entailing $61.4 billion for Ukraine, $14.3 billion for Israel, and $30.1 billion for other projects like border security.

“It’s correct. No Americans are getting killed in Ukraine. We’re rebuilding our industrial base. The Ukrainians are destroying the army of one of our biggest rivals. I have a hard time finding anything wrong with that,” McConnell (R-Ky.) told CBS’ “Face the Nation” in an interview that aired Sunday.

Dozens of Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate have publicly implored the Biden administration to decouple aid to Israel and Ukraine.

In particular, detractors have been peeved about aid to war-torn Ukraine, while largely being supportive of assistance to Israel. Congress has authorized over $113 billion to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, though not all of that money has been sent over.

“I just think that’s a mistake,” McConnell said about those GOP calls. “I know there are some Republicans in the Senate, and maybe more in the House, saying Ukraine is somehow different. I view it as all interconnected.”

“We have big power competition from China, and Russia and we still have terrorism problems,” McConnell surmised. “So I think that requires a worldwide approach rather than trying to take parts of it out.”

The 81-year-old Kentucky lawmaker downplayed concerns about Europe not doing it’s part to buttress Ukraine in it’s fight to stave off Russian invaders.

“They’ve done almost 90 billion dollars, they’re housing a bunch of refugees who escaped. I think that our NATO allies in Europe have done quite a lot,” he said.

Last week, McConnell hinted at support for the White House’s expected package, but he left open the possibility that the GOP might “make suggestions to improve it if that’s needed.”

“Well not on the domestic side, but on this issue that we’re discussing today, we’re generally in the same place,” McConnell quipped when asked about him having a lot in common with Biden.

One area on foreign policy where McConnell drew sharp contrast with Biden was Iran.

“You can’t on the one hand, be negotiating with Iran on some kind of nuclear deal that you know they won’t keep, and then turn around and declare that you’re going to get tougher with Iran,” he said.

One area on foreign policy where McConnell drew sharp contrast with Biden was Iran.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has also been heartily in favor of the supplemental as well, making the House of Representatives the biggest obstacle.

The lower chamber has been without a speaker since Oct. 3 when eight Republicans joined with an overwhelming majority of Democrats to dethrone former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)

“I hope we’re going to have a speaker sometime soon,” McConnell said plainly. “We need one because the House can’t do anything without a speaker. And it’s a problem.”

“I’m not an expert on the House. I have my hands full here in the Senate, and we’re gonna do our job and hope the House can get functional here sometime soon,” he added.

In the time since McCarthy’s ouster, Republicans have scrambled to unify the caucus and put forward a speaker, but have been unsuccessful. Without a speaker, the House can’t take up serious legislation for consideration.

On top of the wars raging in Ukraine and Israel, Congress is staring down a looming Nov. 17 deadline to avert a government shutdown.

McConnell has refrained from throwing his weight behind a particular contender, and stuck to publicly telling House Republicans to get their act together.

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