June 25, 2024

Sep. 20—WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Brad Finstad is one of three Republican Minnesota U.S. House members to receive a grade of “very poor” for their lack of support of Ukraine in its war with Russia.

U.S. Reps. Pete Stauber and Michelle Fischbach also received an “F” from the conservative advocacy group Republicans for Ukraine, which earlier this week released a report card on all Republicans in the U.S. House.

Republicans for Ukraine said the grades it assigned to GOP House members reflected their public statements and their votes to cut U.S. aid to Ukraine.

In an interview with the Post Bulletin last July, Finstad, who represents Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District, focused primarily on the open-ended financial commitment the U.S. was making in its support of Ukraine. He also expressed concerns over the depleting effect it was having on the nation’s stockpile of weapons. He said he saw no strategy in sight in terms of an end game.

“I would like someone to explain to me, what is our strategy there,” Finstad said then. “How do we see this end? And if it is an endless war that we’re going to just keep putting the full faith and credit of the American public taxpayer on the line for it, I think that’s doing a huge disservice, not only for you and I, but for our kids.”

Finstad has voted on three amendments during his time in Congress that would have reduced support for Ukraine: One would have stricken $300 million of assistance for Ukraine, another would have prohibited all security assistance for the country, and another would have removed the extension of lend-lease authority to Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine has become a fault line in the GOP Party between its more “isolationist” wing and those who support a more robust foreign policy. During the Cold War, the GOP Party took a more hawkish attitude than the Democratic Party toward the Soviet Union, believing a strong America meant exercising leadership on the world stage.

In issuing grades on GOP House members, Republicans for Ukraine said it was seeking to rally support around its foreign policy roots on an issue of vital interest to the U.S.

“By educating GOP voters and congressional leaders about the need to continue supporting America’s ally, Republicans for Ukraine is mobilizing public opinion behind what was traditionally a bedrock conservative principle: strong American leadership in the world,” Republicans for Ukraine said in a release.

Reflecting the division at the level of the Minnesota U.S. House contingent, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota’s 6th District was given an “A” from Republicans for Ukraine for his votes and public statements backing Ukraine.

The United States has committed more than $60 billion in aid to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, including more than $43 billion in military aid, according to Voice of America — Europe.

With a presidential election looming, polls suggest issues other than the handling of the war are weighing more heavily on American voters, including the economy, health care, immigration and abortion.

The share of Americans who say the U.S. is providing too much aid to Ukraine has steadily risen since the start of the war, largely driven by a shift among Republicans, a Pew Research poll in June showed.

It showed that 44% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say the U.S. is giving too much aid to Ukraine.

Former President Donald Trump, now polling as the favorite to win the GOP presidential nomination, moved the party in a more isolationist direction as his sway over the party grew. He was the rare GOP candidate to criticize former President George W. Bush over his decision to invade Iraq, calling it at one time “the single worst decision ever made.”

In a CNN town hall in May, Trump would not commit to sending aid to war-torn Ukraine, should he win the presidential nomination and then the White House. At the time of the Russian invasion, Trump called Russian leader Vladimir Putin “savvy” and has long been complimentary of the Russian strongman.

As part of a defense budget passed by the House, U.S. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia and Matt Gaetz of Florida proposed amendments to the bill cutting aid to Ukraine. Stauber, Finstad and Fischbach supported them, but amendments ultimately failed.

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