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US lawmakers debate on continuing to fund the war in Ukraine

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine came to Washington to meet with U.S. lawmakers in Congress and President Joe Biden about aiding his war.
Posted at 11:00 PM, Sep 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-21 02:02:27-04

On Capitol Hill, it's pretty common to see signs supporting the country of Ukraine.

But, since the start of the war, signs and messages have been accompanied by actual military support in the form of billions of dollars worth of U.S. taxpayer money.

Now there are real questions about whether that aid and those commitments will continue.

Since President Volodymyr Zelensky landed in the United States this week, his mission has been clear: unite the West, again, in support of Ukraine.

On Thursday, that mission was expected to bring Zelenskyy to Capitol Hill where he has been scheduled to meet with lawmakers who are actively debating whether to keep funding the war.

For Ukrainian Americans living in the U.S., the thought of a possible reduction in aid is devastating.

President Joe Biden, along with democrats and some Republicans, want $24 billion more in aid for Ukraine.

Congress has, so far, allocated about $113 billion for the war and humanitarian efforts.

But any new government aid is being met with more skepticism — especially among conservatives in the House. 

"Was Zelenskyy elected to Congress? Is he our president? I don't think I have to commit anything. I have questions for him. Where is the accountability and the money we already spent?" said Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy recently. 

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There are conflicting polls about where Americans stand regarding the war.

One poll, published by Razom, a pro-Ukraine advocacy group, found that 63% of the country is in favor of continued military support for Ukraine. Other polls have not found that data. 

Doug Klain, a policy analyst with Razom, has studied this conflict for years. 

He says he doesn't think lawmakers will end all aid, but if aid does end, he says it won't end the war. Other European countries have multi-year commitments.

"If all foreign aid to Ukraine stopped tomorrow, Ukraine would keep fighting," Klain said. "The role of this support, military, financial, all of the above, is to help this war end sooner."

So far, it is difficult to accurately report how many have been killed or wounded, so far, in the year and a half of fighting. 

The U.S. and Ukraine do not release figures and Russia's numbers have historically been wrong. 

A recent report by the New York Times, citing unnamed sources, found the number of Ukrainians and Russians killed or wounded at around 500,000 so far.