Congressional Republicans Increasingly Champion a Restrained Foreign Policy

May 26, 2022 | Lachlan Markay
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Last week, the Senate voted 86 to 11 in favor of a nearly $40 billion military- and humanitarian-aid package for Ukraine. The House of Representatives had passed the bill by a vote of 368 to 57 the week before. All of the opposing votes, in both houses, were cast by Republicans. And while the normal partisan dynamics of one party opposing a measure supported by a president of the other can partially explain some of the Republican vote, Lachlan Markay believes that an ideological shift is also at play. He examines the small but growing GOP coalition urging a more timid approach to foreign-policy spending and intervention.

Republican lawmakers—following President Trump’s lead—are working with a wide range of conservative groups to pull back American support for Ukraine, the Middle East, and Europe. . . . Trump is backing candidates who’ve explicitly broken with Republican foreign-policy orthodoxy.

Senator Rand Paul, who led the Senate opposition [to the Ukraine aid package], huddled in his office with several of the coalition’s key players before the House voted on the measure earlier this month. . . . They discussed messaging and strategy on Ukraine but also U.S. foreign policy more generally.

Objections to the Ukraine bill fell into three categories: strategic differences over America’s policy role in world affairs, procedural objections to the bill’s speedy passage through Congress, and concerns the money could be better put to use domestically.

“We’re going to come out on the back end of this—probably in a period of months, but certainly by 2024—with a strong conservative and libertarian consensus about a more restrained, but still very robust, American foreign policy,” said Kevin Roberts, who late last year took over as president of the conservative Heritage Foundation.

The Heritage Foundation, once a bastion of Reaganism, itself released a statement criticizing the Ukraine bill. While the authors of this particular manifesto for American weakness all come from the political right, their arguments don’t sound very different from those recently proffered by the progressive Democratic Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her recent complaints about U.S. aid to Israel.

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