Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan is a top contender in the race for House speaker after Kevin McCarthy’s ouster this week.
Jordan has repeatedly voted against measures authorizing continued US aid to Ukraine in the war against Russia.
His ascension to the speakership could also hinge on making a deal with far-right Republicans to curb US security assistance.
The race to replace Rep. Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House is heating up — and US aid to Ukraine may be the biggest issue on the ballot.
The top contenders for the spot are Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise. The two Republicans agree on a slew of issues, but they’re sharply divided on the question of how much security assistance the US should send to Ukraine — if any at all — as it continues fighting off Russian aggression.
And if Jordan — a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus — wins the battle for speaker, it could signal the end of American aid to its embattled ally.
The Ohio lawmaker has made no secret of his opposition to continued US support for Ukraine.
He has consistently voted against measures that would increase security assistance to the country, and he received a score of “F” regarding US assistance to Ukraine from the conservative group Defending Democracy Together.
Jordan told reporters on Wednesday that “the most pressing issue on Americans’ minds is not Ukraine, it is the border situation and crime on the streets and everybody knows that.” He told FOX & Friends this week that he wanted more details on how Ukraine would use the aid “before we even think about sending more money.”
Republican calls to abandon Kyiv aren’t new; indeed, Ukrainian lawmakers and US national security experts have closely watched the dynamics of the GOP-controlled House since the party won control of the chamber in last year’s midterm elections.
The signs were building even before the midterms. In April 2022, 10 House Republicans voted against a bill allowing the Biden administration to more easily lend military equipment to Ukraine. The following month, 57 House Republicans voted “no” on a nearly $40 billion aid package for Ukraine. Both measures ultimately passed the chamber.
But when GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California was elected speaker after a painstaking uphill battle, concerns about whether the US had the political will to continue backing Kyiv ratcheted up a notch. After more than a dozen rounds of voting, McCarthy caved to a list of demands from a far-right faction of GOP lawmakers led by Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz.
Gaetz made it clear to McCarthy at the time that he may be speaker, but it was in name only. And this week, he followed through on that threat by engineering McCarthy’s ouster after the California lawmaker worked with Democrats to pass a temporary funding bill to avert a government shutdown.
If Jordan were elected speaker, he could face the same pressure from his intraparty colleagues that McCarthy did. In other words, as Politico reported, Jordan’s ascension to the speakership could hinge on making a deal with Gaetz and his far-right cohort to curb US aid to Ukraine. And he could also get the boot if he doesn’t make good on those demands.
“We may get some of that,” GOP Rep. Don Bacon told Politico, referring to the possibility of a Ukraine-centric quid pro quo. “If the GOP pulls the rug out from Ukraine and Russia prevails, it will be a disgusting legacy the party will own for decades.”
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