Thune on Ukraine: ‘America cannot retreat from the world stage’

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) pressed the House on Thursday to pass a Ukraine aid bill, as he launches a campaign to replace outgoing Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).

“I think that the challenge, of course, right now, with the situation deteriorating there, is to try and feel a sense of urgency about this,” Thune said in a “PBS NewsHour” interview.

“I’m hoping the House can execute on getting something passed, ideally the Senate bill, but if not, something that they could send to the Senate that we could then act on,“ Thune added.

McConnell and Thune have been among the GOP supporters in the Senate of sending additional aid to Ukraine.

Republicans in both chambers have grown divided over the issue, however, particularly as former President Trump has won primaries and become the near-certain GOP nominee for president.

The House has resisted bipartisan calls from the Senate to pass aid for Ukraine. The Senate passed an aid bill last month.

Thune emphasized the need for American aid in Ukraine, as the country struggles to hold back a surging Russian military.

“America cannot retreat from the world stage,” he said. “American leadership is desperately needed, now more than I think any time in recent history, and we need to make sure that Ukraine has the weaponry and the resources that it needs to defeat the Russians. Because, if we’re not sending them American weapons, and they succeed in Ukraine, and they go into a — roll into a NATO country, then we’re going to be sending American sons and daughters.”

“And I would much rather send weaponry, ammunition, that sort of thing, and let the Ukrainian people, who have been really good about carrying the fight to the Russians, win that battle,” he continued. “And I hope that we can get the political support to make that happen.”

Democrats have floated using a discharge petition to put a Ukraine aid bill on the floor of the House for a vote, though it is unlikely that the effort could get enough support. Discharge petitions are difficult because they are rarely backed by member of the majority party in the House.

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has stated that Ukraine aid won’t be considered before the Senate passes robust border security measures. House Republicans previously shot down a bipartisan border security bill passed by the Senate.

“National security begins with border security,” Johnson said last month. “We have said that all along. That has been my comment since late October. It is my comment today.”

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