Seventeen Senate Republicans defied their party’s majority and former President Donald J. Trump and joined Democrats in pushing for Senate approval of military aid to Ukraine, signaling a growing foreign policy divide in today’s Republican Party.
The 17 senators, mostly national security supporters who include several military veterans, cast the votes necessary to overcome several filibusters supported by a majority of their colleagues and pave the way for approval of $95 billion in aid for the Ukraine, Israel and their allies within days to clear the Pacific region.
“The thread that holds this group together is national security,” said Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican from Kansas who is one of the 17. “America’s national security, the belief that what happens in Ukraine matters to the United States, the belief that what happens in Israel matters, and the belief that what happens in the United States matters South Pacific happened.”
Supporting the funding could provoke condemnation from Mr. Trump and his allies, a possibility that was most likely a factor in some’s decision to oppose it.
Some Republicans who opposed the bill have suggested they might ultimately support the bill if it is finally passed, after trying to use their opposition to win the chance to amend it – an attempt that failed has so far proven unsuccessful. But it remains unclear whether more than half of the 49 Republicans will vote for it.
Here’s a closer look at the defectors so far and what motivates them.
All but two of the Senate Republican leaders
The group includes the Senate’s two top Republicans, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and John Thune of South Dakota, as well as two other members of the leadership team: Senators Joni Ernst of Iowa and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.
Two other leaders, Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming and Steve Daines of Montana, both of whom have supported Mr. Trump, oppose it.
The sharp division over funding within the upper echelons of the Senate Republican Conference reflects a sharp division within the party, which for much of the post-World War II era has been a strong supporter of exercising American power abroad and supporting U.S. allies. But there is a growing and strong sentiment among Republicans – encouraged by Mr Trump – to withdraw from foreign engagement.
Mr. McConnell has been among the most vocal supporters of sending aid to Ukraine. He called Kiev’s war against Russian aggression an existential matter and argued with increasing passion in recent days that the United States must not abandon its democratic ally in the fight against President Vladimir V. Putin.
Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican who has pushed for a slower pace on the military aid measure, on Monday called the idea that strengthening Ukraine is crucial to America’s national security “ridiculous.”
“I think sending money to Ukraine actually endangers our national security even more,” Paul said. “The leadership has come together, but it’s the wrong compromise.” It’s a compromise to loot the Treasury. They’re shoveling out borrowed money.”
Others who voted for the funding include Senators John Cornyn of Texas, a former top Republican who is interested in returning to leadership, and Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the Senate’s longest-serving Republican.
National security leaders and veterans
Several members of the Armed Services Committee have supported implementation of the bill, including Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the ranking Republican on the panel, Senators Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, and Ms. Ernst.
Ms. Ernst served overseas as an officer in the Iowa National Guard, and Mr. Sullivan is a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves. A third Republican veteran who has strongly supported the aid, Sen. Todd Young of Indiana, is a former Navy officer.
Democrats have praised Republicans who have joined them in the Ukraine effort.
“I think they understand the need to support Ukraine, especially since this is a competition between a rules-based international order and the Russian autocracy,” said Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island and chairman of the Armed Services Committee. “They also understand that it could soon involve our military members.”
Mainstream Republicans and Appropriators
Members of the appropriations committee, including two more centrist senators — Susan Collins of Maine, the ranking Republican on the spending panel, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — were also instrumental in pushing the aid. Other sponsors of the bill include Mr. Moran, Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana and Ms. Capito.
The measure is supported by a handful of others known to break with their party and support bipartisan compromise, including Senators Mitt Romney of Utah, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee; Bill Cassidy of Louisiana; and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
“I think there’s a general understanding that if we fail this vote, if we don’t support Ukraine, bad things will happen – that’s not bluster, that’s not hyperbole,” Tillis said Monday.
Republican supporters of the law say they cannot worry about Mr. Trump or the potential consequences for the election because of the urgency of containing Russia and preventing a major war in Europe or Asia.
“There is a lot at stake and we have to find the right time,” Ms Collins said.
As for a possible backlash, Mr. Tillis said he was not worried.
“I slept like a baby last night,” he said, referring to his vote Sunday to overcome the filibuster by a majority of his Republican colleagues.
Below is an alphabetical list of the 17 Republicans who voted Monday to advance the bill past its final procedural hurdle:
Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia
Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
Senator Susan Collins of Maine
Senator John Cornyn of Texas
Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa
Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa
Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
Senator Mitt Romney of Utah
Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota
Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska
Senator John Thune of South Dakota
Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina
Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi
Senator Todd Young of Indiana