Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) said his Kentucky colleague, Sen. Rand Paul (R), who openly opposed the $40 billion Ukraine aid package, represented “a tiny percentage.” of Senate Republicans.
“My colleague, Senator Paul, has always been basically an isolationist. He is proud of it and believes that is where America should be. That’s a small percentage of the Senate Republican Conference,” McConnell told Fox News’ Bret Baier on Thursday.
“There has always been a thread of isolationism in our party, but it does not come close to the mainstream opinion, which was expressed in the vote we had today and will be expressed again when we vote on the admission of Finland and Sweden to NATO.” he added.
Paul was among 11 Republican senators who voted against the $40 billion aid package for Ukraine early Thursday. Last week, the Kentucky Republican blocked the chamber from moving quickly on the legislation after it passed the House earlier this month.
“We only had 11 votes against the package. I predict we will have even fewer votes against Finland and Sweden joining NATO,” McConnell said on Fox, predicting that more than two-thirds of the Senate would vote to support Finland and Sweden’s NATO bids.
In response to McConnell’s comments, Paul stated that his position was not “isolationism” but rather “common sense”.
“Opposing big government spending isn’t isolationism, it’s common sense. Our country is facing an inflation crisis and adding more debt now is a mistake,” Paul said in a statement.
The Ukraine aid package approved by the upper house on Thursday includes $9 billion to replenish arms stockpiles sent to Ukraine and about $9 billion for the Ukrainian government to continue operations and combat human trafficking, among other provisions.
“If Congress really believed that giving Ukraine $40 billion is in our national interest, they could easily pay for it by taxing each taxpayer $500. I guess they choose to borrow the $bc Americans might decide they need the $500 plus to pay for gas,” Paul he tweeted Thursday morning.
Ten Republican senators joined Paul in voting against the relief package: Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), John Boozman (Ark.), Mike Braun (Ind.), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Mike Lee (Utah), Cynthia Lummis (Wyoming), Roger Marshall (Kansas), and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.).
The approval of the aid package was praised by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“I praise the [U.S.] Senate approval of the Ukraine Additional Supplementary Appropriations Law of 2022. $40 billion is a significant amount [U.S.] contribution to the restoration of peace and security in Ukraine, Europe and the world. We await the signing of the law by @POTUS,” she said. he wrote on Twitter.
President Biden is expected to sign the legislation soon.
Updated Friday at 9:09 am