CARMEL, Ind. – Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Indiana), the first Ukrainian-born member of Congress, says she believes the U.S. is “moving in the right direction” with its response to the conflict in Ukraine as Congress approves a $40 billion aid package.
Spartz, who grew up in Ukraine before immigrating to the U.S. in 2000, has pushed for increased U.S. aid.
“You look at the suffering and it just breaks your heart, but when you go and see it in person it’s just unbelievable,” said Spartz, who recently returned from her third trip to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began in February.
“I probably have a much more deeper perspective about what’s happening there,” she said. “And I can be an asset on a bipartisan basis to my colleagues for us to have right policies because all of us want to stop this nightmare.”
The latest way lawmakers are trying to do that is the $40 billion aid package. The Senate passed the bill Thursday with bipartisan support – 86 voted in favor of the measure, while 11 Republicans, including Sen. Mike Braun (R-Indiana), voted against it.
“I support helping Ukraine expel the Russian invasion, but as inflation, gas prices, and shortages wallop Americans here at home I can’t support $40 billion of new spending unless it’s offset with cuts or taken from already authorized funds, especially when the European Union isn’t matching what we’re doing to end this conflict in their own backyard,” Braun said in a statement.
The House passed the measure last week on a 368-57 vote.
Spartz said she feels this most recent round of assistance better addresses the security and military needs of Ukraine compared to previous legislation.
“If you look at the last package, from $13.6 billion, only a couple of billion were given to help with Ukraine to defend the country with security assistance,” Spartz said.
This week Spartz co-chaired a classified House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing to find out how those funds have been distributed.
She considers the U.S. response so far more reactive than proactive, though she’s pleased to see the recent actions that have been taken, she said.
“It’s important for us to understand that the cost of inaction is going to be so material and destabilize not just Ukraine, but the whole world,” Spartz said. “It’s a very serious situation.”
The $40 billion aid bill heads to the President’s desk for his signature.