Sen. JD Vance backs push for vote on Ukraine support
cleveland.com February 1, 2023
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Tribune News Service) — U.S. Sen. JD Vance said Wednesday that he’s going to continue pressing the Biden administration over American military support for Ukraine after a right-wing media personality asked him to push the White House for a formal war powers vote as a form of congressional oversight.
Vance, a Republican who took office last month, talked about Ukraine during a Wednesday podcast interview with former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon.
“Is it time for the Senate, or a couple of people, to stand up and force Biden to come with a War Powers Resolution? And lay out the plan, lay out the objectives, lay out the strategy, what we’re prepared to do. And then let’s vote,” Bannon said.
“Yeah, I think it’s exactly time to do that,” Vance responded. “And that’s something I plan to work on over the next few months. If Ukraine is as important as the Biden Administration, and way too many Republicans say it is, then why isn’t Europe stepping up and doing its job? Why are we footing the majority of this bill even today?”
Bannon recently began pushing for the Biden administration to seek a War Power resolution, the formal process of consulting Congress while preparing for or declaring war. Bannon, a strident Ukraine critic who occasionally has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, told Vance on Wednesday such a move would force the White House to be more specific with its plans.
Congress members across the political spectrum have pushed for votes on War Power resolutions to end U.S. military support in the ongoing civil war in Yemen, as recently as late December.
The conversation with Bannon shows Vance, when it comes to Ukraine, is continuing the same tack he took as a U.S. Senate candidate last year. As a candidate and now in his early days as a U.S. Senator, Vance has portrayed Ukraine as an expensive distraction from other domestic and foreign policy issues that also could result in a dangerous military escalation in Europe.
It was on Bannon’s show in February 2022 that Vance said he “didn’t care” what happened in Ukraine. The sound bite ended up causing problems for him in the campaign after Russia invaded Ukraine shortly afterward and the rest of the Republican candidate field backed U.S. support for Ukraine. Vance still won the primary in May with the help of a key endorsement from ex-President Donald Trump.
Besides his comments to Bannon, Vance also has pushed for the Biden Administration to provide a detailed accounting of where the more than $27 billion in U.S. aid to Ukraine has gone. It’s a major change in posture compared to Vance’s Republican predecessor, ex-Sen. Rob Portman, who was co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus and visited Ukraine as one of his final official acts in Congress.
In the Wednesday interview, Vance acknowledged his position on Ukraine may not be popular in all corners of Ohio.
“A lot of people have a lot of sympathy for the Ukrainians, that the country should not have been invaded,” Vance said. “A lot of people in Ohio feel that very personally. We’ve got a big Ukrainian population in Ohio. But I think even people who are sympathetic with the plight of the Ukrainians like I am, they don’t think that this is America’s main concern.”
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