Oklahoma Republican Leaders Hold Different Views Of Ukraine Aid Package

Tuesday, May 17th 2022, 5:35 pm


A procedural vote Monday on a $40 billion Ukraine aid package got overwhelming bipartisan support, including from Oklahoma’s two Republican senators.

The 81-11 vote allows the bill to move forward to final consideration, possibly as early as Wednesday. The House easily passed the measure last week, but efforts to move it quickly through the Senate were blocked by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who complained the aid package lacks adequate oversight.

Some in the GOP, including Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK1), oppose the package due to its size, saying that tending to America’s economic needs right now outweighs the importance of providing Ukraine with tens of billions more in military assistance.

All others in the state's delegation, however, voted -- or intend to vote -- in favor of the package.

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) acknowledged, with so much to be concerned about at home, this is not at all an easy decision; but in an interview Tuesday said, "We can't abandon what's happening in Ukraine right now."

Lankford says the stakes are too high, both for United States and its self-interests, and for the entire world.

"China is watching very closely what’s happening," said Lankford. "If the Chinese see the Americans are going to stand with folks when they’re actually attacked, but then they’ll give up three months into it, that’s a pretty clear signal to China to go take Taiwan and know they’ll have three months of consequences on it."

In a Facebook post Monday, Sen. Lankford also said that pulling back U.S. support at this point would potentially undo the work done decades ago by President Reagan to dismantle the Soviet Union.

“What we’re watching right now is Putin trying to put [the Soviet] empire back together again,” said Lankford. “I do not think that’s what’s best for the world, I certainly don’t think that’s what’s best for the region, and that’s not what’s best for the United States of America as well.”

Economically, Lankford says, the United States is more tied into the well-being of Ukraine than most people realize.

"A lot of the steel that we use...the downhole pipe that we use for drilling comes from that area," Lankford noted, "fertilizer comes from that area."

Prices at the pump, he says, are at record highs, in part because of President Biden's policies, but also because of the war.

"We are not going to get gas prices back down again until that war gets resolved," Lankford said in Tuesday's interview, "and the best way for that war to be resolved there is for the Ukrainians to win and push the Russians out."

"It’s a tough call," admitted Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) Tuesday, "because a lot of people are saying we’ve done enough for Ukraine. I look at it a little differently because we’re doing this for us."

Senator Inhofe says approving the new aid package is the right thing to do, not just for Ukraine, but also for those don't want American troops to end up in the fight.

"If we don’t do it now, the likelihood is very great that we’re going to end up having our sons and daughters actually participating in combat," Inhofe said, "and we obviously don’t want that to happen."