Republican Opposition to Ukraine Aid Is Really Nativism in Disguise

Republican Opposition to Ukraine Aid Is Really Nativism in Disguise
Rep. Kevin McCarthy speaks to reporters after he was voted out of the job of Speaker of the House by a contingent of hard-right conservatives, at the Capitol in Washington, Oct. 3, 2023 (AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite).

Two weeks ago, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, was ousted as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, marking the first time in history that a speaker was deposed by his or her own party in the middle of the congressional term. The cause of McCarthy’s downfall was that he had lost the support of 20 far-right members of the Republican Party’s Congressional Caucus, the so-called MAGA Republicans who are the most fervent supporters of former President Donald Trump.

Their main reason for turning on McCarthy was that he apparently broke one of the commitments he made to them to gain the speakership in the first place: not to bargain with the Democrats over legislation. But that’s just what McCarthy did in the days before he was ousted, in order to approve stop-gap legislation that continued funding the federal government through November, thereby avoiding a full government shutdown.

But there also seemed to be another bee in the bonnet of the MAGA Republicans, one that was perhaps even more fundamental to their rebellion: military assistance to Ukraine. Funding for aid to Ukraine was pointedly not included in the agreement that allowed the government to continue operating. But MAGA Republicans accused McCarthy of making a secret promise to President Joe Biden to hold a separate vote on Ukraine funding down the road, in which Democratic support would have overridden the MAGA faction’s “internal veto” among House Republicans. This seems to have violated another one of the concessions McCarthy had made to gain the speakership in the first place.

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