Support for President Joe Biden’s request for $61 billion aid to Ukraine is faltering in Congress, with pro-Putin Republicans working in the House to block it entirely and in the Senate to poison it. Even Ukraine’s most stalwart Republican backer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is now insisting that the funding be tied to U.S. border funding and immigration policy changes that Democrats and the White House oppose.
Advocates for Ukraine funding are beefing up their argument by highlighting to members of Congress just how much economic benefit the aid—in the form of munitions and military equipment produced in the U.S.—reaps for their own district. Manufacturers of every size in more than 30 states have realized billions of dollars from sales going to the Ukraine war effort. That could include House Speaker “MAGA Mike Johnson”’s Louisiana district, which is home to the only black powder manufacturer in the country.
That plant, owned by Goex, is “located just 28 miles east of the newly elected speaker’s hometown,” and has been shuttered for the duration of the war because of an explosion in 2021. Because it’s been out of operation, the Pentagon has had to source black powder for its munitions from Europe for both the weapons being provided to Ukraine and the U.S. stockpile. Biden’s aid package would provide $14 million to the Goex plant. The Defense Department has already poured $3.5 million into the Goex plant. That allowed it to reopen this summer. In August, it sent its first shipment of powder.
The plant has a terrible safety record, with “at least seven fires and explosions in the last 25 years, according to the Shreveport Times.” The influx of new Pentagon cash wouldn’t just help Goex make the plant safer for the 25 people who work there, but also allow the company to expand and hire even more of Johnson’s constituents.
That’s a thing that most members of Congress like to tout: providing jobs and economic growth in their home states through their advocacy. Like Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, home to Allegany Ballistics Laboratory. “Supporting our allies means also supporting our men and women here at home at facilities such as ABL and others around the country,” Capito told Bloomberg.
Then there’s the Putin wing of the GOP. For example, Freedom Caucus member and failed speaker candidate Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio. His state has garnered about three-quarters of a billion dollars in investments in companies involved in the war effort. That doesn’t impress him. “We shouldn’t be sending any more money until we have a defined mission, what is the objective, because nobody seems to answer that,” Jordan told Bloomerg. Economic benefits back home are not “something that should be driving any decision at all.”
That’s one excuse for refusing to help in the fight against Putin, and a pretty weak one. The defined mission is winning the war and forcing Russia out of Ukraine. But the Putin wing of the party, which appears to include the new speaker, doesn’t have a problem choosing Russia over their own constituents.
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