The confirmed and possible candidates for speaker of the House have had differing voting records on U.S. aid to Ukraine, which could possibly jeopardize Kyiv’s chances of receiving funding in the future.
Former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy was ousted from his position on Tuesday in a 216-210 House vote, an effort spearheaded by Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz who filed a motion to vacate the chair on Monday. A new speaker will be decided on Wednesday, and whoever is elected will have influence over whether future Ukraine aid will be included in the next spending bill before the current continuing resolution ends on Nov. 17.
The continuing resolution did not contain any funding for Ukraine, despite the Biden administration’s initial request to include $24 billion. Future aid to Ukraine has become a point of contention in both the House and the Senate and will be a major issue in the next spending bill, which must be passed by Nov. 17, is considered.
As of now, the confirmed candidates for the speaker position are Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and Republican Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, and potential candidates include Republican Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Hern and Republican North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry.
Jordan currently chairs the House Judiciary Committee and confirmed his candidacy for speaker on Wednesday. He has already garnered the support of high-profile conservative figures, including former President Donald Trump and a number of his Republican colleagues.
“He will be a GREAT Speaker of the House, & has my Complete & Total Endorsement!” Trump posted on Truth Social Friday.
Jordan voted for the initial Ukraine Lend-Lease Act in May 2022, but has since voted against all bills and amendments for further funding, and rejected the notion of including aid in the stop-gap bill that was passed on Sept. 30, according to GOPforUkraine.org. Jordan’s office directed the Daily Caller News Foundation to an interview he did on Thursday, where he made it clear that he will reject all future aid, at least until Ukraine gives an explanation as to how the funds are being used and how it plans to end the war.
“I’ve been clear all along. Why should we be sending American tax dollars to Ukraine?” Jordan said during an interview with Fox News on Thursday. “We don’t even know what the goal is. No one can tell me what the objective is.”
“And then second, how is the money that’s already been sent [been spent]?” Jordan said. “Those are two fundamental questions that I think the American taxpayers want to know the answers to before they send any more of their hard-earned money.”
Scalise, currently the house majority leader, announced his candidacy for speaker on Wednesday and has the support of GOP lawmakers like Texas Rep. Tony Gonzales and Georgia Rep. Drew Ferguson. Scalise was diagnosed with blood cancer in August, which has limited his ability to be present at recent House proceedings.
“I think the world of Steve Scalise. I think he would make a phenomenal speaker,” Gaetz previously told the DCNF.
While he hasn’t been historically vocal about his stance on Ukraine, Scalise has voted in support of every bill and amendment for Ukraine funding since the war began in February 2022, according to GOPforUkraine.org. Scalise previously called for additional oversight as to how Ukraine is spending the appropriated funds.
“Obviously, there’s concern that the money’s going to the places that it’s intended,” Scalise said in December 2022, according to Politico. “Having any taxpayer dollars that go anywhere, whether it’s domestically or abroad, deserves scrutiny.”
Hern, currently chairman of the Republican Study Committee, is considering a run for the speaker position but has yet to confirm his candidacy. Hern was previously nominated by his colleagues for the position in January but declined to run. (RELATED: McCarthy Addresses Media After Being Ousted As Speaker, Says He Will Not Run Again)
Like Jordan, Hern voted for the initial Ukraine Lend-Lease Act but subsequently voted against every amendment and bill with funding for Ukraine, according to GOPforUkraine.org. Hern has instead put a higher emphasis on securing the southern border and lowering the national debt.
“On yesterday’s vote to send more money to Ukraine, I voted no AGAIN,” Hern said on X in late September. “We need peace in Ukraine NOW! Not war!”
Also being considered for speaker is McHenry, who is currently serving as speaker pro tempore, fulfilling the duties of the office until a new speaker is elected. McHenry, a major ally to McCarthy, has voted in favor of every bill and amendment with funding for Ukraine since the country’s war with Russia began in February 2022, according to GOPforUkraine.org.
President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he was concerned that, depending on which candidate is elected as the new speaker, his foreign policy initiatives and future Ukraine aid plans could be put in jeopardy.
“It does worry me,” Biden said on Tuesday. “But I know there are a majority of members of the House and Senate in both parties who have said that they support funding Ukraine.”
“The dysfunction always concerns me,” Biden said. “There is a half a dozen or more extreme MAGA Republicans who would like to eliminate despite everything I’ve done.”
Scalise, Hern, McHenry and the White House did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
Jake Smith on October 8, 2023