With a single vote lead for Democrats in the Senate and the House effectively in the grip of Republicans with 7 seats lead, President Joe Biden, it seems, will be stuck in a serious dilemma for the remaining two years of his stint at the White House.
At the moment, President Biden is confronted with two pricking questions: one, how to extinguish the Ukraine war and tighten the noose around Moscow’s neck, and two, how to defuse the economic and military belligerency of Beijing without creating new flashpoints – or a new Cold War for that matter.
On both the subjects, despite having similar stance as Democrats on key points, Republicans are likely to give a tough time to the Biden administration in the coming days. The most crucial matter, however, is the scope and quantum of financial and military support for Ukraine.
Ever since the Russian tanks rolled into the Ukrainian territory in February this year, the US Congress has sanctioned $68 billion in financial and military aid for Kyiv and the Biden administration has again resorted to the Congress to grant an additional amount of $37 billion two weeks back. Till now all such proposals by the Biden administration have received the bipartisan support in the Congress.
In May, the largest tranche for Kyiv was approved with overwhelming support and only 57 no votes in the House of Representatives – interestingly, all of them belonging to the Republican Party – indicating the existence of small bunch of extreme rightists within the Republican legislators.
Some of mainstream leaders of Republicans, including Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader and the expected next House Speaker to replace Nancy Pelosi, have been questioning the financial support to Ukraine. McCarthy, during the midterm campaign, threatened that there would be no “blank cheque” for Ukraine under the Republican majority in the House.
Though, later on, McCarthy backtracked on his blank cheque comments in his private conversations with national security leaders and clarified that he had no plans to put breaks on support for Ukraine, but other extreme right elements among Republicans are still keeping their voice loud against the US involvement in the Ukraine imbroglio. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the far-right conspiracy theorist Congresswoman, was also very hawkish on this subject and during her election campaign also vowed that “under Republicans, not another penny will go to Ukraine.”
Just after the midterm results, Greene has introduced a resolution in the Congress calling for an audit of US spending on Ukraine. As soon as the midterm results were announced, Greene, along with a bunch of like-minded Republicans, has been campaigning for tight audit of the US aid programme to Ukraine.
Obviously, such anti-Ukraine voices emanating from Republicans folds have caused anxiety in Kyiv. But in view of the bipartisan support on both sides of the divide in the US Congress, it is highly unlikely that the US aid to Ukraine will face any significant change in its flow.
The far-right group within the Republican Party is expecting that with the skyrocketing inflation and economic downturn, a Ukraine fatigue would soon envelope the Oval Office as well as Congress and the public pressure will start mounting if Washington continue to pour tens of billions of dollars into funding the war in Ukraine at the expense of aggravating cost of living crisis at home.
So, even if the far-right group is still a small bunch, but they may start buttressing support for their views if the Biden administration stumbles in handling the energy and inflation crisis. Nonetheless, Republicans, despite agreeing in principle on supporting Kyiv, will not let President Biden to have an easy run on the matters pertaining to the Ukraine war.