US Ukraine Alliance Wins – Isolationists Lose In Congress

Heather Cox Richardson

This morning, President Joe Biden signed into law the $95 billion national security supplemental bill providing military aid to Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific, as well as humanitarian aid to Gaza and other peoples suffering humanitarian crises. The Pentagon immediately sent about a billion dollars worth of ammunition, air defense munitions, and artillery rounds, as well as weapons and armored vehicles to Ukraine. The U.S. Department of Defense had moved supplies into Poland and Germany in hopes that the measure would pass; they should move into Ukraine soon. 

The Pentagon also said today that in mid-March it provided Ukraine Army Tactical Missile Systems, or ATACMS, with a range of 185 miles (300 kilometers), twice that of previous weapons sent by the U.S. 

For many months, Ukraine has been desperately short of supplies, especially ammunition, and its war effort has suffered as it waited for the reinforcements that are finally on their way. 

In a speech after signing the law, Biden explained that the U.S. would send equipment to Ukraine from its own stockpiles and then “replenish those stockpiles with new products made by American companies here in America: Patriot missiles made in Arizona, Javelins made in Alabama, artillery shells made in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. In other words, we’re helping Ukraine while at the same time investing in our own industrial base, strengthening our own national security, and supporting jobs in nearly 40 states all across America.” 

Biden emphasized that the law is “going to make America safer. It’s going to make the world safer. And it continues America’s leadership in the world, and everyone knows it.” But he called out that border security was missing from the bill, and he promised to bring that measure back. 

Biden made it a point “to thank everyone in Congress who made it possible, especially the bipartisan leadership: Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson; Leader Jeffries; Leaders Schumer and McConnell. They don’t always agree, but when it matters most, they stepped up and did the right thing. And I mean this sincerely, history will remember this time.” 

“We don’t walk away from our allies; we stand with them. We don’t let tyrants win; we oppose them. We don’t merely watch global events unfold; we shape them. That’s what it means to be the…indispensable nation. That’s what it means to be the world’s superpower and the world’s leading democracy. Some of our MAGA Republican friends reject that vision,” he said, “but this vote makes it clear: There is a bipartisan consensus for that kind of American leadership. That’s exactly what we’ll continue to deliver.” 

This morning, Arlette Saenz of CNN reported on the six months of behind-the-scenes negotiating Biden and his team engaged in to get House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) behind Ukraine aid. Meetings, phone calls, defense briefings, and so on, laid out for Johnson just what abandoning Ukraine would mean for U.S. and global security. 

Biden urged his team to stay in close contact with Johnson, as well as House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), but to avoid attacking Johnson in order to allow room to move discussions forward. 

Counselor to the president Steve Ricchetti, a key negotiator, told Saenz: “He just kept saying, ‘Keep talking. Keep working.’ You know, keep finding ways to resolve differences. And that was his direction.”

Biden’s focus on the slow, steady work of governance is a change from the actions of Republican leaders since 1981 whose goal was not to build up successful programs that helped Americans in general, but rather to slash the government. Killing programs requires only saying no to other people’s ideas and riling up voters to endorse that anti-government program by flame-throwing on right-wing media. 

Over the years, it seems we have become accustomed to the idea that flame-throwing defines politics, but in fact, Biden’s reliance on slow, careful negotiation harks back to the eras when leaders sought to build coalitions and find common ground in order to pass legislation.   

North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) acknowledged the power of Biden’s approach today when it endorsed Biden for president in 2024. The union’s president, Sean McGarvey,  noted that Trump had promised to protect pensions and to pass infrastructure laws that would help employment in the building trades, but did neither. In contrast, Biden worked to pass the American Rescue Plan, which protected pensions, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Chips and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act, which McGarvey said “have brought life-changing, opportunity-creating, generational change focused on the working men and women of this great country who have for far too long been clamoring for a leader to finally keep their word.”

In an ad, McGarvey said: “Donald Trump is incapable of running anything, let alone the most powerful country in the history of the world.”

The NABTU has 3 million members across the country and has committed to investing heavily to organize workers to vote for Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, where about 250,000 of their members live.

Trump has other problems today, as well, after an Arizona grand jury yesterday indicted 11 of the fake electors in that state with conspiracy, fraudulent schemes and artifices, fraudulent schemes and practices, and forgery for their attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

Those charged included state senators Jake Hoffman and Anthony Kern, former Arizona Republican Party chair Kelli Ward, and Tyler Bowyer of the right-wing advocacy organization Turning Points Action. The indictment lists seven other co-conspirators, who are not yet named but who appear from descriptions to include Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Christina Bobb, Boris Epshteyn, and Jenna Ellis; Trump campaign operative Mike Roman; and Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows. Bobb is now senior counsel for “election integrity” for the Republican National Committee.

Trump is listed as an unindicted co-conspirator.   

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