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McConnell takes a stand on Ukraine

​US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters after the weekly Senate caucus lunches at the US Capitol in Washington, on Oct. 24, 2023.

US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters after the weekly Senate caucus lunches at the US Capitol in Washington, on Oct. 24, 2023.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the longtime Senate Republican leader, is known for cutting shrewd political deals. Most are designed to keep Senate Republicans unified, others include give-and-take with Democrats, but nearly all are struck quietly behind closed doors.


It’s all the more striking, then, that McConnell is campaigning so publicly and forcefully on the increasingly controversial issue of continued US financial support for Ukraine. The veteran senator appeared on widely watched television shows on Sunday and appeared with Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States on Monday to reaffirm US backing. It’s also notable that he appears motivated less by political calculus than by his stated conviction that President Joe Biden’s support for Kyiv is in the US national interest.

McConnell’s push comes at a moment when opposition to Ukraine funding has surged among House Republicans, including newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson, while also spreading to members of his own Senate caucus. To advance further Ukraine funding through the Senate, he needs to deliver nine Republican votes to the Democratic majority to avoid an opposition filibuster. But to push any deal past the increasingly resistant Republican House majority, he’ll need every Republican vote he can get.

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